School District 5 (SD5) had some decisions to make in regards to over $361,000 in funding from the provincial government. The government allocated nearly $15 million to school districts across the province to help offset the cost of transportation.
The funding was allocated according to the need for transportation. School districts in cities with independent transit systems, such as Vancouver, received less than school districts in more rural areas with a heavier need for transportation services. According to Rob Norum, secretary treasurer for SD5, the district received a fair allocation.
“It’s a fair allocation,” he told The Free Press. “They allocated it based on the fact that we have transportation and the size of our transportation system.”
One of the stipulations of the funding was, if school districts were charging parents for transportation costs, they would have to get rid of those fees. Last year, a school district near Castlegar and Trail started charging parents to bus their kids to school. This funding will help offset those costs.
“We don’t charge fees and one of the things that districts have to do if you do charge fees is to eliminate those fees,” said Norum. “We don’t charge fees so we are open to look at where we can make improvements to our bussing system.”
SD5 has until September 30 to decide how they will use the funding. Norum says they will take input from different sources to decide where the funding is more needed, but says it will help improve the service.
“We can look at our special needs students, students with disabilities and look at all of our bussing and reducing ride times if we can,” he said. “Try to provide better service, try to improve communication to parents possibly from a central office. Try to let parents know about bussing delays or bus stops – just overall enhancement to bussing.”
Norum says the school district pays between $1.6 and $1.7 million for the transportaton service and the $361,000 will be a big help.
“Getting $361,000 is pretty big. That is a quarter of our bussing system right now. We are hoping we can make some enhancements and provide an overall better service for our students.”