There have been cutbacks to busing in the past few years, but the Vernon School District says it’s still offering a high level of service compared to other districts in the province.
“The transportation department provides a safe and efficient transportation system,” said district secretary-treasurer Sterling Olson.
“Our level of service that we provide is quite good compared to other districts in the province with our eligibility of service level only 2.4 kilometres. Both our neighbouring school districts have walk limits of four kilometres for Grades K-3 and 4.8 kilometres for grades 4-12.”
In August, the Ministry of Education announced new transportation funding that could be used in a variety of ways, with this district eligible for $361,094 in funding.
“There are lots of different ways this money could be utilized, and the ministry laid out criteria for some of the eligibility,” said Olson. “First and foremost, government has said that to be eligible for this funding, a board can’t be charging bus fees for in-catchment eligible students.
“The board has talked about implementing a fee structure through their budget development process over the last year; the board delayed that but it’s still an item that the board has been considering. The recommendation (on the table) talks about you using this money to remove that from any future budget discussion. For all intents and purposes, you are saying you won’t implement fees and will use this money to insure that those fees are never implemented.”
Olson has presented trustees with a plan for using the funds, with $300,000 of funding used to prevent the implementation of busing fees.
The balance of the funds ($61,094) could then be used to support enhancing student safety.
“This is one for the board to determine — do you support the use of the funds to offset the revenue you could generate for charging fees,” said Olson.
Trustees have approved the suggested plan for submission to the ministry for approval.