UNION GAP — Bud Clary Toyota of Yakima decided Wednesday to extend its free bikes program to any elementary school student with perfect attendance in the West Valley, East Valley and Union Gap school districts, responding to disappointed kids who thought they had earned a bike.
The move comes after some parents and students expressed disappointment when they learned that the program, called Perfect Attendance Creates Excellence, or PACE, was limited to students in the Yakima School District.
Students with perfect attendance need to visit the car dealership and present proof that they meet the standards set for the program and a bike will be ordered for them, said Jeff Mattson, general manager for the car dealer.
Bud Clary Toyota staff had been working with certain Yakima School District elementary schools — along with the private St. Joseph Marquette Catholic School — all year on the program. The parameters to qualify were set by the principals of those schools and students and parents were notified early in the school year. Staff also kept in touch with the schools to keep students motivated to reach that perfect attendance goal.
But as word spread about the program, teachers and students from other school districts were under the impression that they, too, were included. Some PACE flyers did not mention the Yakima School District-only caveat.
Mattson, who came up with the bikes promotion based on a similar program he saw elsewhere, said he did not want disappointment to overshadow an otherwise successful program. He said that up until the recent confusion, the program received plenty of positive feedback.
“I don’t want any student who had perfect attendance to think they were cheated,” he said.
In addition, Townsquare Media has offered to pay half the cost for any additional bicycles ordered, he said. Some of the confusion about the program stemmed from a KIT-AM website article that said the program was open to students in the West Valley, East Valley and Union Gap school districts as well.
Any additional bicycles that need to be ordered will take a few weeks to arrive. However, those students and their families will be welcome to attend one of two barbecues the dealership is organizing next week to celebrate the students’ achievements.
Meanwhile, other businesses have step up to fulfill the need as well.
Absolute Drain and Septic donated bicycles and helmets for the two students at Ahtanum Valley Elementary, which is in the West Valley School District, who had perfect attendance this year.
The bicycles and helmets were purchased Wednesday morning and given to the students, principal Richard Pryor said.
Shortly after, another business called and also offered to purchase bicycles, he said.
“I thought it was really cool,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything like that.”
With recent feedback in mind, Mattson said Bud Clary Toyota will change the program for next year. Instead of focusing on a specific school district, all Yakima Valley elementary schools will be invited to submit a nomination to be involved.
The number of schools selected will depend on the program’s budget.
“We’re planning on continuing this for as many years as we can,” Mattson said.