Calgary Board of Education and Minister Eggen play shell game with dollars while students and parents pay the price
September 5, 2017
Calgary – As Calgary students return to classes today, parents and students face great uncertainty with another bussing fiasco. Using research and FOIP requests, the Students Count Team has done its homework and sees the shell game being played at students’ expense.
“An analysis of documents clearly shows that 16,600 students have had their bus fees doubled since 2014. An independent review identifies that 5,300 yellow bus students will have their fees reduced with Bill 1 and an unknown number of Calgary transit users will benefit. Overall, far more families are paying double fees than those who are not” says Lisa Davis, Students Count Candidate in Wards 6 & 7.
“All and all, the bussing changes have created a mess of uncertainty and stress. Parents are being forced to pull their children from school programs with fewer than 3 weeks notice because they cannot afford these fees and/or make the long walking distances work,” Davis adds. “There have been multiple media reports about single mothers, and students with special learning needs among the hardest hit. This does not reflect Calgarian’s values”.
“CBE’s third Party report shows a 10 million dollar deficit in Special Needs transportation - that the Minister had to know about,” says Davis.
FOIP documents from 2015 show a 30% increase that the Minister was made aware of. It was clear at that time that the dramatic cost of Special Needs bussing would reach a breaking point - which it now has.
While CBE deserves credit for ensuring that special needs students get appropriate transportation, the Minister has a moral obligation to ensure that the CBE has the funds to cover these costs.
On June 6th, Minister Eggen promised parents there would be no bussing increases beyond 5% (about $16.75). Today, thousands of parents are facing double their fees. We call on Minister Eggen to keep his promise.
These numbers and promises show a pattern of poor decisions by CBE as well as a lack of advocacy by trustees. At the same time, inaction at the Ministry means our children pay the price. Like many other parents, our group has written the Minister and received nothing in return (attached).
“We know during the last bussing fiasco, 3,000 bus-stop change requests were made by parents and duly ignored by the CBE. We as trustee candidates demand that the Board and Minister resolve this immediately,” concludes Davis.
Students Count is a team of five candidates running throughout Calgary on five key points including greater fiscal accountability. The candidates have committed to working with any other Trustees chosen by Calgary voters.
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