Christie Tujik (right) displays her upset with the potential of removing courtesy riders, the majority of which are French Immersion students, from the busing system during the Vernon School Board meeting Wednesday, March 11. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Christie Tujik (right) displays her upset with the potential of removing courtesy riders, the majority of which are French Immersion students, from the busing system during the Vernon School Board meeting Wednesday, March 11. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

School bus cuts feared for some North Okanagan students

Special transportation meeting could impact hundreds of kids

Busing talks are back on track in the Vernon School District despite school being out of session.

A special online public meeting Wednesday will see board trustees address transportation for the 2020-21 school year.

The April 22 meeting gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with a link to the online meeting to be posted on the district website Wednesday. There will be opportunities for the public to ask questions.

One parent says the meeting is to discuss the proposed cancellation of 60 school bus routes affecting 637 students in the district.

“If these 60 bus routes are cancelled the whole community will be impacted by extra peak hour traffic congestion, especially in the downtown vicinity, not to mention the increase in air pollution as these 637 students will now have to find alternate ways to access school,” said Karen Smith, a concerned parent of two elementary students. “Also the safety of the students is endangered by increasing the already congested traffic around schools at drop-off and pick-up times.”

As the district is currently in budget deliberations, transportation is a topic of interest for many parents who have seen bus fees implemented, routes cancelled and other changes.

“This is now the fourth year we have struggled with busing,” said the district’s chairperson Robert Lee, at the last packed-house trustee meeting in March.

READ MORE: Courtesy riders could get boot from Vernon buses

Lee says the district receives $400,000 but spends $2 million on transportation, which comes out of general funds.

“That is money I could have taken, as an example, I could have put another 20 teachers into the classrooms, I could have put another 30 assistants into the schools,” said Lee.

Now the district is facing a budget shortfall of $951,238 for the upcoming school year.

A major part of that is a significant reduction in enrolment in the International program, from 220 students to 10, which equates to a $560,000 loss.

Currently the preliminary budget calls for a user free for transportation for next year and approval of adjustments, if any, to transportation policy or changes.

There is currently a registration fee of $25 for all riders, plus $175 for courtesy riders.

With those fees, CUPE President Gray Boisvert says the cost to the district is more like $60-80,000 for the courtesy riders, which represent 637 riders.

“What is it going to cost them when they have to settle 637 kids somewhere else?” Boisvert questioned at the March meeting. “There’s going to be financial impacts to the district to make this change.”

Other parents fear the changes could affect education for their kids.

“By taking the busing away, he will not go to school, it’s hard enough to keep my kids in school as teenagers without taking transportation away from them,” said one mom at the meeting.

After having busing for 35 years on Westside Road, one dad questioned the sudden change amid a stressful time.

“Monday the stock market crashed, Tuesday I lost my job and today I have to drive here to find out we might lose busing as well,” he said during the March 11 meeting.

The change will have the biggest affect on Beairsto students, which represent the largest number of courtesy riders.

“It will mean only people with means can take part in French immersion,” said mother Dayna Li, who adds that the school parking lots are not designed to handle every parents dropping off and picking up kids.

Lee and fellow trustees heard the concerns of parents at the March meeting, and did ask for some suggestions.

“Why don’t you sit amongst yourself and come up with a committee and say yes there’s a problem here and come up with some solutions. Because we have been struggling with solutions with diminishing dollars,” said Lee, adding that busing is approximately 30-40 per cent of the children in the district.

The district is seeking feedback on the Budget Adjustment Plan, which can be sent to ljameson@sd22.bc.ca.

READ MORE: School expansion makes room for more Vernon students


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Schools

Just Posted

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

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

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

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

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read