Students Count Calls on Province to Fully Fund Real School Transportation Costs
June 6, 2017 (Updated)
Calgary – Parents are advising CBE that busing isn’t working for them – again.
“Two years ago families went through massive upheaval when changes were made with no notice or consultation. Getting children to school safely and parent to work on time is an ongoing challenge for many families. Busing is something that should simply work,” says Althea Adams, candidate for Students Count in Wards 3 & 4.
“Now CBE has rolled out changes based on regulations under Bill 1, which was supposed to make lives better for families. Despite some initial hope for robust solutions, the new plan is not working for families” she adds. “For too long, CBE has raided dollars from education to cover the gap in provincial funding to get students to school.”
Using internal trustee documents obtained in a FOIP request during the last busing crisis, the Students Count candidates see the breakdown of types of riders. Based on CBE’s data, we see that while special needs busing students represent 5% of bus riders, they need 39% of the funding. CBE indicates average funding is $549/student for transportation, severe special needs students receive $3374, yet its third party busing report shows the average cost for special needs busing is $7,611 per student.
“Let’s be clear. It is vital to look after the busing needs of these children. CBE deserves credit for doing so. CBE has unique programs like Christine Meikle. These types of programs provide an invaluable service for their students and rightly deserve to be properly funded,” says Adams.
“We are disappointed CBE trustees have not effectively communicated with government on the actual and underlying issues. We need the trustees to be strong advocates, even if advocating for families means disagreeing with government. They need to be effective at explaining problems and providing solutions to meet the needs of all families. The only real solution is for the province to provide funding for the actual cost in order for affordable busing to be available to all families,” Adams continues.
“The lunacy of the CBE solution is evident when you see CBE is going to bus kids that are 1.6 to 2.4kms to school, but kids in alternative programs may have to travel further than that just to get to their bus stop! Fixing busing is possible. It relies on trustees who acknowledge the issues, and are prepared to be fierce advocates for students and parents with the province. Sadly, this has been lacking and the end results are major problems for Calgary families. We will do better and ask any parents or public school supporters to join us at studentscount.ca,” Adams concludes.
Students Count, a team of five candidates running to be trustees for the Calgary Board of Education, are calling for full provincial funding of student transportation today.