Busing in the Vernon School District has been a contentious issue in the past few months, but a newly formed transportation sub-committee hopes to tackle parents’ concerns over recent changes.
The committee will be made up of representatives from all district partner groups, including the District Parent Advisory Council and transportation supervisor Robyn Stephenson and district superintendent Joe Rogers.
“I’ve spoken to the DPAC president and she has three parents ready to go on the sub-committee,” said Rogers. “But we have to wait until the new board meets for the first time in December when the new board chair will appoint two trustees to the committee.”
Once the trustees are appointed, the committee will meet regularly to review busing.
“I’ve told her it’s necessary to have the work done by the end of February to be able to come up with a recommendation to the board,” said Rogers.
The plan is to implement the committee’s recommended changes by September 2015.
The Ministry of Education has provided no increase in funding for transportation since 2001, and the district spends about $2 million on busing every year.
Betka Yacovelli has two children at Beairsto school and is one of three parents on the new sub-committee.
She got involved because of changes to the Middleton Mountain bus stops.
“Our main reason was that the transportation department completely cancelled our bus on Middleton,” she said. “Because there are kids all over Middleton, it would stop on Mount Grady, Mount Beaven and other stops, drop high school kids off at VSS and continue on to Beairsto,” she said.
Yacovelli said the changes to busing could have been handled better by the district, but since she and other parents voiced their concerns to the transportation department, and to Rogers, some improvements have been made.
When the stop was moved to Kosmino Road, parents felt it was unsafe for their children to have to cross busy Middleton Way to get there. The stop has now been moved to Middleton Way and 11th Avenue, on the residential side, which means kids don’t have to cross the busy street.
“I had a map made up, collected all the parents’ names and addresses and took it to Joe Rogers, and they changed it.
“It works pretty well for most of the parents; some still have to drive, but it’s better now for safety.”
Yakovelli said she believes many parents would be willing to pay a fee for busing in order to keep their children safe and to ensure busing continues in the district.
“If that’s what it takes, and it is a decent amount, I think that is reasonable.”
Yakovelli also suggests that parents get in touch with their school PACs to express their concerns and to be kept informed.