VERNON – The Vernon School District, facing the prospect of another budget shortfall, is floating the idea of charging for busing.
“There is a consultation process regarding student transportation that has explored the possibility of charging users for busing,” says acting secretary-treasurer Adrian Johnson.
“Right now nobody pays for busing, which is unusual in B.C.”
If busing fees are introduced, Lumby parent Kimberley Hutton worries about the impact on low-income rural parents.
“In order to get mom and dad into Vernon to start their jobs at 8 o’clock, they are dropping their kids off outside a school at 7:15 a.m., when the school doesn’t open till 8:15 a.m., and it is the middle of winter. What’s happening to those kids? Are they safe?” she asks.
However, Johnson says that no decision has yet been made about charging for bus rides.
Overall, the school district estimates it is short around $437,000 and is looking for administrative savings to help balance the budget.
Vernon’s deficit is a portion of the $54 million in savings the province has asked school boards to find over two years.
The Ministry of Education points out that school boards will be getting more money this fiscal year, mainly to cover the cost of new collective agreements.
The ministry says that the health and post-secondary sectors have also had to find administrative efficiencies.