Dave Sloan is the Superintendent of School District 60. He says the need for the meeting with the public is a result of the Ministry of Education reducing funding for transportation.
“The Ministry of Education has re-allocated the way it allots funds. Now what they give us is a geographic factor allocation, which school boards can use to fund things like transportation. Over the course of a few years, ours has been cut by several hundred thousand dollars,” he says. “We now have a shortfall between what it costs to transport students, and what the province allocates us, so we’re looking to address that so that transportation is a revenue neutral process.”
At a previous School Board meeting, it was also recommended they issue notice of a pending annual fee for ridership that would begin this September.
The suggested cost per family would be $200 each for the first two children, and $500 for a family of three children or more. That works out to $1.10 per day for each of the first two children, 55 cents for the third child and no fee any addition children. Comparably, a monthly B.C. Transit bus pass would cost $350 for 10 months.
Based on this year’s ridership, those fees would bring in $406,000, which means the School District would still be looking to make almost an additional $300,000.
Sloan says the struggle for school boards is that transportation is not a required service. The money the board has to be distributed has to cover a number of things.
“Transportation is not a required service; it’s something that boards want to try and make sure students have access, but it’s not required, so we look at that in terms of how we use the resources that we’re allocated to the best advantage of students,” Sloan
says. “Throughout the province, some districts are now looking at transportation as ‘if we don’t have the resources to fund it, how do we make up those resources so that the cost of transportation is not a drain on other aspects of the education programs?’ “
Sloan is hoping to get input from the public on the issue during a meeting on May 16.
“We’re going to have a public information session. We’ve asked the public for feedback and input and other ideas, alternatives on how can we best provide transportation in a fiscally responsible manner. We’ve asked for written submissions to be sent to the
board through schools to the secretary treasurer by May 8th, and the response has not been tremendous,” Sloan says. “Part of the concern of the board is that there be accurate information out there and so the meeting would be an effort for us to get that
information out there, and allow the public to ask questions of us to clarify the issue.”
The exact time of the session on May 16 has yet to be established, however the school board will settle on a firm time by the end of Thursday.