Rising fuel costs and more bus routes have driven up the cost to transport students to school by more than a million dollars over the past five years, according to financial documents from the Central Okanagan School District.
The documents show funding has increased by 24 per cent to $4.68 million from 2015 to help cover the additional costs.
“Fuel costs are a significant concern to the district. We are paying almost $200,000 a year more for fuel than five years ago,” said Ryan Stierman, the secretary-treasurer for the school district.
During a meeting on Oct. 16, he said the district now has 74 buses — an increase of six buses from last year — and is looking at adding fuel efficient buses to cut costs. It has also hired six new bus drivers to drive the vehicles.
“We now have 17 of our buses operating on liquefied natural gas, which are cheaper to operate than a traditional gas or diesel engine,” said Stierman
According to the report, the Central Okanagan School District operates the largest busing system in the province and anticipates serving over 5,500 students once it has added the six additional routes to accommodate hundreds of extra students that enrolled this year.
Stierman said it has been difficult for the district to streamline its operations and save money as many of the 5,500 eligible students end up using alternate means of transportation to get to school.
According to the report, 22.8 per cent of students use a bus to get to school, with the largest proportion of students located on the Westside and Lake Country areas.