Some Vernon students might have to walk to school or get an alternate ride if courtesy riders are removed from the school bus system. (Morning Star file photo)

Some Vernon students might have to walk to school or get an alternate ride if courtesy riders are removed from the school bus system. (Morning Star file photo)

Courtesy riders could get boot from North Okanagan buses

Proposed changes would most impact Vernon’s French Immersion students, among others

Hundreds of students could be removed from the school busing system if some proposed changes are brought on board.

The Vernon School District board is looking at possibly removing routes that are not serving eligible riders.

This change would result in approximately 637 courtesy riders stranded. Meanwhile, many eligible riders would experience improved school arrival and departure times.

The information was looked at, but no decisions have been made following a study that was completed in December 2019 to determine the effects of implementing a routing system to provide service to currently registered eligible riders based on district policies.

Many parents within the district are concerned will be bringing the topic up at upcoming school board meetings ahead of the budget’s finalization. The next meeting is slated for Wednesday, March 11, but the topic of transportation is not on the agenda.

“From what I understand, each year they’ve been trying to cut the courtesy riders but they’ve deferred it,” said Dawn Ansdell, a Beairsto parent and member of the school and district’s parent advisory council.

She will be raising the topic at the meeting and pushing for a policy change, or at least for the board to take a closer look at the numbers.

“It’s going to impact a lot of people,” said Ansdell, noting the largest impacts will be felt at Beairsto and Seaton, where most students are courtesy riders.

She said those rides could mean the difference between taking French Immersion or not.

“One parent even wrote to me and said busing is the difference between me being able to work full time to me working casual.”

There are currently 1,021 courtesy riders in the district and 2,019 eligible riders, according to student registrations from Dec. 9, 2019.

Removing courtesy riders would result in an estimated reduction of 13 route hours at approximately $15,000/route hour, according to a recent study. That would save the district around $195,000 a year.

If courtesy riders were removed, the largest impact would be felt at Beairsto Elementary, where 219 students rely on those courtesy rides. Bearisto is followed by W.L. Seaton, which has 127 courtesy riders.

Clarence Fulton has 57 courtesy riders, Harwood has 54, BX has 50, Alexis Park has 35 and Vernon Secondary and Silver Star have 33 and 22 respectively.

The remaining courtesy riders attend Mission Hill, St. James, Hillview, Charles Bloom, Okanagan Landing and the Alternate Learning Program.

Courtesy riders are considered those whose home address is within 2.4 kilometres from school.

Courtesy rider fees of $300 were implemented during the 2018-19 school year and were reduced for the current school year to $175 when a $25 registration fee was introduced for all riders.

READ MORE: Back to school in Vernon drives bus fee upset

A report from the manager of transportation Robyn Stephenson, in December 2019, states 87 per cent of courtesy rider fees were paid by Dec. 12, 2019, amounting to $109,820, with 13 per cent ($24,457) outstanding.

At that time, 77 per cent of eligible riders’ fees ($32,870) were paid, while 23 per cent ($11,900) was still outstanding.

Staff are looking to have service removed for 476 registered students whose fees are still not paid.

“Students considered courtesy riders can’t be provided with a ride because we give first priority to a registered rider,” Stephenson said. “The transportation staff are trying to clean this up so they can offer rides to courtesy riders if space is available.”

There has already been frustration voiced to the staff from people who can’t get courtesy rides when the bus is half empty.

Meanwhile, Stephenson noted registration, bus passes and fees have reduced eligible riders by 750 between June and September in 2019.

READ MORE: Some kids won’t be on board Vernon school buses in new year


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Schools

Just Posted

A search is underway for David Borden in Oyama, since he was last seen Wednesday, June 16. (Contributed)
UPDATE: Missing Lake Country man found

Family thanks Facebook community for sharing photo of missing man

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Kelowna Fire Department. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Abandonded campfire results in Kelowna bushfire

The fire was measured at 20 feet by 20 feet in size and has been deemed not suspicious in nature

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

Canadian blues sensation Colin James will close down Saturday night, Aug. 14 of the 2021 digital Salmon Arm Roots Blues Festival. (Black Press Media file photo)
Salmon Arm’s Roots & Blues Festival returns online after 2020 success

Nine acts, including Colin James, Caleigh Cardinal, to perform on festival website Aug. 13 and 14.

Most Read