Recent changes to the allocation of school district operating grants means funding for student transportation in that region has been reduced by approximately $750,000 over a three year period. Based on a review of services and public consultation, a number of measures will be implemented to try and counteract the cuts.
Starting in September 2013, in-town bussing in Chetwynd will cost $20 a month and $50 per family. Previously, bussing was free from three locations in town for high school students from November 1 to March 31, and between school locations year round for elementary school students, as there is no public transit service.
Also in September, school buses will no longer deviate from their route for students not driving to the school in their catchment area, and route extensions will be reviewed annually and may lead to route cancellations.
There are other changes proposed to be implemented next September, including getting rid of five bus runs and the dual credit student route, at a combined savings of almost $335,000, as well as getting drivers with underutilized hours to run the wash bay.
Following those changes, the School Board has decided to hold a referendum in October 2014 in an attempt raise the rest of the money through a local rural taxation. In order to raise $400,000 in tax revenue in Peace River Regional District areas D and E, it would mean an approximately $18 annual tax increase on a property assessed at $300,000. Should the referendum be voted down, other options would include further reducing bus service, charging transportation fees to other students, and closing some rural schools and going to a four-day school week for others.