Cherryville parents, grandparents and students made the trip to Vernon Wednesday night to voice their concerns about cuts to school bus routes in their community.
But they received unexpected good news and learned that the Vernon School District has decided to reinstate the rural routes that had been cut earlier this year.
At the district board meeting, secretary-treasurer Sterling Olson said the routes should be back in service by Nov. 9.
“There have been a few issues raised with regards to some reductions, and trustees and parents have expressed their concerns,” he said. “We’ve had meetings with the regional district and have asked our transportation supervisor to collect information from other boards on how they handle the outlying areas.
“I think this is a creative way to solve that, it’s a nice solution to provide some support and service. I know it won’t address all the concerns, but it at least provides some solution.”
Earlier this year, the board cut service to Sugar Lake Road in Cherryville and Creighton Valley Road in rural Lumby, in an effort to save money.
Since the cuts, parents have expressed concern that without buses, children will have to walk long distances along Sugar Lake Road, which has narrow shoulders and is frequently used by logging trucks.
The Sugar Lake Road route will now be reinstated, and Creighton Valley Road will be partially reinstated, not to its original route but to 1129 Creighton Valley Rd.
“We’re in phase three of our busing plan, where we made some changes to the Fulton family of schools and in phase two we added some stops for Beairsto kids on the west side,” said district superintendent Joe Rogers. “We see how things are working and then we readjust.”
Trustee Doris Squair, who lives in rural Lumby, said Cherryville parents appreciate that their concerns have been heard.
“With Cherryville school, more than 92 per cent of kids are transported and so this makes me very relieved. I know not everyone appreciates this and what rural areas are like,” she said.
Sugar Lake Road resident Kara Zeolkowski has four children — one at Charles Bloom secondary and three at Cherryville elementary — and she had expressed her concern that the new bus stop would have been 9.4 km from her home.
“I live at the end of Sugar Lake Road, so this is a huge relief for me,” she said. “In the future, if this happens, can we please get a lot more notice. I would have liked more communication with parents, because this affects us a lot.”