While Roosevelt Elementary School, 1574 Linden Ave., undergoes renovations for the next year, Secure Transportation is making sure its students get to their temporary school, Mary Butler, 1400 E. 20th St., safely and on time.
Steve Dobbs, president of Secure Transportation, helped launch the DRIVE Our Future program, that provides young Roosevelt students with a safe ride to school. He and his wife Pilar have been Long Beach residents for nearly 30 years, and wanted to find a way to help their community, he said.
“This is one of the coolest things we have ever done as a company,” Dobbs said. “We have two children and have been fortunate, and it’s good to pass that along so others can have opportunity.”
With Roosevelt students facing a longer walk to their new school site, Secure Transportation decided to purchase a brand-new 8-passenger van with wheelchair accessibility to pick up the 40 children and 30 families who are using the new program.
Roosevelt Principal Christopher Lund said the program has been a “godsend” for many of these families who are without reliable transportation to take their students to school.
“Seventy percent of our families don’t own a car, so this makes a big difference for them,” Lund said. “I think that, given the heat we’ve had lately, it has been especially challenging for our parents. To see a Long Beach-based organization help out really demonstrates a great public-private partnership.”
Dobbs added that he didn’t want to see young children deal with transportation issues and being forced to miss school or walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood — especially with the sun going down earlier.
“The principal at Roosevelt, who is a good friend of mine, told me they didn’t have support from the district to supply transportation for the students,” Dobbs said. “So, I thought this could be a great way to reach out to the community and help.”
Every morning, the first route picks up eight students at a time in front of Washington Middle School to take them to school in five route loops.
The selected children are chosen based on the distance they live from Mary Butler, and participating parents can donate $5 per month for the shuttle, which will go back into Roosevelt’s fund to purchase bus passes for older students.
“We’re grateful for Steve and Pilar’s generosity and excited about our new partnership,” Lund said. “Not only do we now have a reliable ride set up for some of these kids who really need it, but we’re also using parent donations to help pay for students’ bus passes. It’s a win-win.”
Lund added the school has been writing grants to offset additional costs of bus passes from Long Beach Transit, so that parents can purchase monthly passes at a discounted rate.
To ensure the safety of its students, Secure Transportation’s drivers are already screened through background checks, drug/alcohol tests and are trained to meet all state and local requirements for transporting students, including Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training.