I am writing this letter to voice my concern at what seems to be an apparent lack of communication between the Vernon School District and its parent group, which it is suppose to serve.
The district, in mid-June, sent home a letter to parents that their children would no longer be bused if they were within a 2.4 -kilometres distance from their school.
As far as I am aware, there was no opportunity for discussion regarding this upcoming change. Yes, there was a general District Parent Advisory Council meeting held in June where transportation was an agenda item. But it was not the only item on the agenda and if you were late to the meeting, the front door was locked. Does that send a message?
As a former school board employee, I well understand the financial pressures that all school districts are facing. It is a losing challenge.
However, to drop a bomb of this magnitude and have no opportunity for parents to have meaningful discussion until September or a later date has all of the hallmarks of poor communication.
Many of these roads that kindergarten and elementary age children will have to walk back home on have no sidewalk and in some cases, the highway is now shared with bicycle traffic as the shoulder is marked as a bike lane.
Aberdeen Road, which is the only major road running north/south through Coldstream, is one and Silver Star Road in the BX is another example.
It’s tough enough that your child may have to walk along highway traffic but now your kindergarten child may have to dodge an occasional bike as well.
Add in the reality of winter when snow will be plowed over the shoulder and your child will have to walk out into traffic because there is no shoulder to walk on.
There is also less daylight, so by the time 4 p.m. comes, it is getting darker.
So now we have the combination of elementary age children walking in the dark along snow-covered roads while cars are driving by. This is not a pretty picture.
If we have to bite the bullet because of financial pressures facing the district and we have to limit bus transportation, is there any consideration towards the idea of eliminating the morning bus run but keeping the after-school run?
I put this on the table simply because cutting the morning run will have less impact upon families. Most parents are going to work in the morning and while it would be inconvenient, they could probably drop their kids off at the school on their way to work or make alternate arrangements to drop their kids off.
The afternoon bus run is a different story.
At this time of day, practically all parents are still working and making alternate arrangements is much more difficult simply because all other adults who are eligible to drive are also working. And no you cannot depend upon your grandparents all of the time.
Cutting the morning bus run should save you about half of your time and your cost because you are only doing one trip now – the after-school one.
At least parents will have the assurance that their children will arrive home safely and the district will save some time and money. In my opinion, limiting your bus runs to 2.4 kilometres in the morning and afternoon will save less.
Finally – you can never, ever communicate well enough.
The Vernon School District is in the education business.
Part of good business is not only listening to your clients but be to be seen listening to your clients and giving your clients lots of opportunity to respond as well.
Missing any part of that equation is simply interpreted as stonewalling and never does your business any good.
Robert E. Lee