Busing cuts have been put on hold.
The Vernon School Board hosted a special meeting Wednesday, April 22, via Zoom, regarding transportation for the next school year.
Many parents have been concerned about a previous proposal that would leave more than 600 students without bus access.
But the board agreed to have registration fees remain in place and potential changes be delayed to September 2021.
“This is not something we are putting away and it is something that we will deal with properly,” said chairperson Robert Lee.
“The old days are gone,” he said, as changes are needed to help the district afford the service.
It costs approximately $700 per child to ride the bus in the district, according to Superintendent Joe Rogers.
The district spends $2 million on transportation and is therefore looking for ways to fund the service or cut its costs.
The proposed changes could see 60 bus routes cut, which would affect courtesy riders – those going to out-of-catchment schools and those who live within 2.4 kilometres of their school.
Rogers points out that for Vernon’s courtesy riders: “it is the shortest distance within the province of any other district and the most generous.”
Therefore there could be changes to the courtesy rider definition.
Parents are concerned that removing those routes will force many students onto busy roads. And for younger students or those who need a ride, it will put more vehicles on the road and in the already-busy school parking lots.
Potential route cuts would have the greatest impact on French Immersion students.
“Cuts to busing could mean a huge loss of students to our program due to lack of accessibility,” said Karen Godard, a late French Immersion teacher at Harwood Elementary.
“Most of the students in the program are from out of the Harwood catchment area. Currently in the two classes, we only have nine students from within the Harwood catchment. All others come from other parts of the city, many requiring busing to attend.
“I am quite concerned that the cuts in busing will inhibit students from attending this program and I wonder if the program will continue to be sustainable.”
The fee structure may also see changes.