100% hike proposed for Central Okanagan school transportation fees - InfoNews

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100% hike proposed for Central Okanagan school transportation fees

School bus users could be paying more for transportation.
Image Credit: Contributed
January 31, 2020 - 4:34 PM

The Central Okanagan Public Schools Transportation Steering Committee is recommending that yearly transportation charges for students should be doubled.

Using the feedback from two surveys that generated more than 3,500 responses and hundreds of conversations at five public consultations sessions, the steering committee will present its recommendations in a report to the Planning and Facilities Committee before making its way to the Board of Education for final approval, according to a school district news release.

"Formed in the 2018-19 school year in response to increasing community demands and unsustainable cost increases in transportation, the (transportation committee) was established by the Board of Education to make recommendations to create a sustainable transportation system that better meets the needs of the community," the release said.

Currently, the yearly bus fee is $225, but the recommendations outline an increase to $450 per student.

“This amount matches the amount charged for youth to ride transit for 10 months. All students that require busing will pay the same amount,” the report said. “This amount will generate between $900,000 and $1 million to cover the anticipated costs to implement the new eligibility limits in the first year and to reduce the operating subsidy in future years."

The report suggests to continue providing student discounts of 50 per cent for third and fourth child in a family and no charge for any additional children. It also recommends implementing payment plans through the district's fee system and to allow parents with lower incomes to apply for a fee subsidy, according to the report.

The report also recommends changes to the district’s eligibility limits based on distance from the student's catchment school.

Currently, elementary school students who live four kilometres away and middle school school students who live 4.8 km away are eligible for transportation. The report suggests lowering the requirements to three km for elementary students and 3.6 km for middle school students. It also recommends that additional bus stops be added in areas in areas with “challenging topography.”

The report also includes the option to prioritize courtesy seats for elementary and middle school students, where distance is a main determining factor and to consider other criteria such as grade when considering eligibility. Students who live closer than the approved distances are not eligible for school bus transportation and considered "courtesy riders," according to the district’s website.

The recommendations will be presented to the Planning and Facilities Committee during a public meeting Feb. 5. For the full list of recommendations visit the district’s website. If approved by the Board of Education, registration will open Feb. 17 for busing services.


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