Despite boost from province, school district is still short nearly $400k in bus funding

Members of the Peace River North School Board hear from Secretary-Treasurer Doug Boyd about the plan to apply for additional bus funding from the provincial government. Photo by Chris Newton

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – School District 60 will continue to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 more than it gets funded to bus kids in the North Peace to and from school.

At last night’s school board meeting, the board voted in favour of applying for additional funding via the Student Transportation Fund. On August 10th in Dawson Creek, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced that the Peace River North school district would receive up to $425,785 in additional transportation funding.

Bernier told Energeticcity.ca this morning that eliminating subsidies for student transportation, and submitting a plan to the Ministry by September 30th are requirements to receive funding. The amount of money each school district can receive is directly calculated by the province’s Student Location Factor which looks at the rural makeup of each school district.

The board also voted in favour of discontinuing its Transportation Registration Fee for each student that requires transportation on a school bus. Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Pobuda said that despite the additional funding, the school district is still spending an extra $300,000 to $400,000 on bus costs. Pobuda says that roughly 4-5 years ago, the district used to receive between $2.8 and $2.9 million in bus funding, while spending $3 to $3.1 million on buses. After the province introduced the SLF, he says that the amount of funding decreased by $550,000, necessitating the transportation subsidy.

While the additional funding is welcome, Pobuda says that there is still a significant shortfall due to what he says are flaws in the SLF. In a specific example, he says that the district gets approximately $1,000 in funding for a student attending Clearview Elementary/Jr. Secondary. Once they begin classes at North Peace Secondary, the district only gets $300 in funding for the same student.

Pobuda says that going forward the school district will continue to pressure the government to provide more funding for transportation while asking them to re-examine the student location factor.

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