The Alberta government made cuts to school fees as part of its last provincial budget, but in doing so they have created an issue when it comes to busing.
For parents of kids living in the Langdon area, it means bus services will cost more next school year – only for those who live within 2.4 kilometres of their designated school.
For anyone living more than 2.4-km from school, their transportation will be covered by the province.
The Rocky View School Board felt it was important to still offer the service for those living close to the schools, although it’s not required by the province.
“For the transportation fees, it’s almost like there is a two-tier system,” said Ward 2 trustee Bev LaPeare. “Those that live over that walk limit don’t have to pay, and those that live under it have to pay.
“We don’t have to transport them, but it’s a two-tier system. If we didn’t, then some get to hop on the bus and go and some don’t. No matter how you look at it, I see winners and losers.”
The busing costs for parents living within the 2.4-km limit will jump from $220 for the school year to $325. This cost was based on offsetting the loss Rocky View is feeling for the next school year. The funding from the province is based on the 2015-16 year’s enrollment numbers, and the number of students in the area will increase by about 2,200 for the 2017-18 school year.
“It’s a huge jump but we had no choice,” LaPeare said. “The only thing that will offset that a bit is families will not be paying their school instructional fees, which is a little over $100.
“There’s a $100 increase in transportation fees is somewhat offset by the instructional fees they won’t be paying for.”
The increase went through several votes at the board level before it was passed, and there was a big struggle to find a compromise, LaPeare said.
“Any time we impose a fee on families, we know it will be hard on the entire family, including those kids,” LaPeare said. “At the same time, we want to offer the service. Parents don’t have to take us up on the offer of the service.
“If (parents) don’t want to pay, they don’t have to. They don’t have to take us up on the service. The government is saying they don’t have provide that service. As a board, we’re saying we do have to provide that service for the care of our kids.
“For the child’s entire day, we want them to have the best school experience possible. Starting off being scared in the dark and walking to school, that’s not a good start to the day.”