School District 71 has been taking a look at school bus safety. Photo by Mike Chouinard

New school bus fees on board for Vernon families

Those attending Montessori, French Immersion among the hardest hit

New bus fees have been rolled out for students ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

The Vernon School District has approved changes to the transportation policy around rider eligibility, programs of choice and fees.

Students must be registered prior to May 15 and payment of fees is due by Aug. 15 in order for students to be able to board the bus at the start of the new school year in September.

Registration forms are available at sd22.bc.ca/programs-services/bus-transportation.

The fees are as follows:

• Registration fee for all riders: $35

• Eligible ride (catchment area school): $75

• Eligible ride (approved program of choice): $275

• Courtesy ride (in catchment): $175

• Courtesy ride (out of catchment): $275

The new fee structure was adopted despite a petition from parents.

READ MORE: Parents pressure Vernon school board to curb bus fee hike

“The board has chosen to blatantly disregard the public opinion of their voters,” said Krystal Arcand, a Cherryville mom who organized the petition. “There has been no reasoning given to this radical change and sudden burden on parents that may not know what their bussing situation is going to be at this time for the next school year.”

She says Vernon is only one of four districts that charge for bussing outside of registration fees (Sooke, Maple Ridge and Kelowna).

“Our district is the only one of the four that has a largely rural student base, large catchment areas and no access to other transit options for a large number of students.”

The changes put the biggest burden on parents whose children attend Montessori, French Immersion, Academy of Inquiry and Adventure Okanagan at Fulton Secondary and the Forestry Program at Charles Bloom Secondary, with the $275 fee.

Students who need a second route will also pay the same fee for the second route. But if the rider’s second address is located on the same run as the first address, only one rider fee will apply.

Students who only need to ride the bus one-way will only pay 50 per cent of the rider fee. But students only needing to take the bus for one semester still pay the full fee.

Families with three or more children taking the bus only need to pay the rider fee for two children and the registration fee for all children.

Questions regarding transportation can be directed to the transportation department at transdept@sd22.bc.ca or 250-549-9281.

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