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New law gives free bus services to all East St. Louis School District students

The school district is the first in Illinois to apply and receive the transportation waiver, which expands free bus services to students in high crime neighborhoods

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Under a new law, all students in the East St. Louis School District 189 will receive free school bus services.

The school district is the first to apply and receive the transportation waiver since HB5195 was adopted in Illinois in late 2018. The bill expands free bus services to students in high crime neighborhoods.

RELATED: Illinois bill would add school bus service to high crime neighborhoods

The East St. Louis School District said it estimates 1,800 students will qualify for the service. Previously, students only had free transportation to school if they lived 1.5 miles away from the school or walked through areas identified as dangerous by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

To receive the waiver, districts have to apply through the Illinois State Board of Education. Eligibility for the East St. Louis School District was determined by data from the Illinois State Police and the cities of East St. Louis, Washington Park, Centreville and Alorton.

East St. Louis School District Superintendent Arthur Culver said that the district and parents had been fighting to expand free transportation for several years.

“Our parents are the ones who raised this issue and worked tirelessly to advocate for free bus transportation for all students," Culver said in a Monday press release. "Their advocacy has led to this win for our students. We also want to thank our Board of Education and the Financial Oversight Panel for their support and steadfast concern for the safety of our students.”

The school district said its transportation provider is working to add a new fleet and hire more drivers.

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