Elkford busing issue ignites dispute

Community experiencing a school bus transit tiff.

  • Dec. 9, 2016 3:00 p.m.

By Ezra Black

An Elkford transit tiff has parents protesting, the school board apologizing and students walking.

In a Nov. 1 statement Joe Tank, manager of operations for School District 5, announced that no secondary school students would get a ride to school from the Middletown pickup.

In addition, no secondary students would be transported home from school in the afternoon unless they lived beyond the school district’s acceptable walking limit of 4.8 kilometres.

“The goal of these changes is to transport the greatest number of students without going over the capacity of our school bus,” said Tank in a statement.

Elkford’s only school bus serves 204 students, he said.

In a telephone interview, Tank estimated that 40 to 60 students have lost access to the bus because of the new system.

The changes were implemented Nov. 14 and concerned parents were not pleased. A petition was circulated asking for bus services to be returned to the students.

“We feel there is a need for our children to have busing due to certain concerns such as road conditions, animal encounters and no sidewalks,” said the petition.

On social media a parent expressed that, “This is important for all Elkford students. No busing for current high school students will mean no busing for future high school students either.”

Rob Norm, secretary treasurer for School District 5, said the problem is that Elkford’s students only have one operational bus and overloading has been a problem.

The changes maximize the use of the bus with priority given to the youngest students, he said.

“People have said we’re making reductions but that wasn’t the intent,” said Norm. “The intent was to get it organized so our driver knew exactly who is registered. We’re going to continue to monitor the situation. We have lots of kids who would like to have a ride and if they don’t use the service then they’re going to be taken off the bus register.”

The policy was brought up at the school district’s committee meeting on Nov. 28.

“It’s unfortunate because some students have lost rides but more have gained rides just by organizing it properly,” said Norm. “We’re trying to provide the best service that we can.”