PENTICTON - School District 67 is seeking partner input over the dual issues of too many “courtesy" riders on the bus, and how to manage class time next year.
A review of bus routes in School District 67 appears imminent after the school board recently found evidence that one third of the district’s school bus passengers are “courtesy riders”. Courtesy riders are those who ride but don't qualify for bus pick-up according to the school board's transportation plan.
School Board Chair, Linda Alphen said a bus review was conducted several years ago, resulting in a change to several bus routes in the district. She said it appears another review is in order, as there are a number of routes presently that “aren’t making sense.”
“We’re putting our policy out for our partner groups to review and comment on,” Alphen said. The partner groups will have 30 days to provide input.
Alphen said the board will deal with this year’s budget first, and consider changes to the busing policy if they make sense. Another review would likely involve a third party, possibly to be led by Director of Maintenance, Doug Gorcak.
“Our secretary - treasurer feels up to one third of students riding the bus are courtesy riders,” said Van Aphen, noting school district 67 policy is to provide bus service for students aged seven to 12 who live four kilometres or more from their school. She said a number of students closer to the school were taking the bus, when they shouldn’t be.
“Some districts have no busing, while some districts charge for the service,” Van Alphen pointed out. She also noted the province does not provide School District 67 with funding specifically for busing.
“It sounds harsh, but under the School Act, districts don’t need to provide transportation. Years ago they did, but that’s not the case today,” she said.
Van Alphen said the school district does not plan to eliminate the service completely, but they would like to do something to reduce the number of courtesy riders.
Next year’s school calendar has also been put forward for partner input.
Changes to the timing of teacher’s Pro-D days could add another 10 minutes per day to class time, if approved.
Since the 2013-14 school year, Pro-D days have been staggered throughout the year rather than scheduling them for the end of summer, as was done in prior years. With a two week spring break favoured by the district, an extra five minutes per day of instruction was necessary in the 2014-15 school year to accommodate the inclusion of Pro-D days into the school calendar.
The 2015-16 school year also includes a two day break in classes in February to accommodate the 2016 B.C. Winter Games. When the two week spring break is factored in, another five minutes per day of class time is needed to make up for the days off.
“The idea behind the changes to the Pro-D days was to allow teachers to immediately apply what they had learned by going back to class to practise it,” said Van Alphen.
“The extra two days out of school for the winter games next year exacerbates the situation - last year we added five minutes, this year we will need to add 10 minutes to the school day.”
Van Alphen said the draft calendar for 2015-16 has been distributed to partner groups for days to receive input.
“Everyone will have a chance to have a say. Maybe it doesn’t work for one group or another,” Van Alphen said.
Those wishing to comment may do so by emailing Assistant Superintendent Dave Burgoyne at: dburgoyne.com
Input can also be directed to the school district 67 website.
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