Parents protest CBE decision to remove busing for students attending alternative school programs

Click to play video: 'Calgary parents protest school bus changes at Calgary Board of Education' Calgary parents protest school bus changes at Calgary Board of Education
WATCH ABOVE: Dozens of Calgary parents mad about school bus changes protested at the Calgary Board of Education Tuesday. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the CBE says it’s all about being asked to do more with less – Jun 13, 2017

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to remove Langevin School from the list of five schools where yellow busing is no longer available. The CBE said when the science program was expanded, some of the students were re-designated to Valley View and Ian Bazalgette schools. Those students will continue to receive the yellow school bus service. The students that chose to remain at Langevin School did so as ‘out of attendance-area students.”

Approximately three dozen frustrated parents protested on the steps of the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) over the lunch hour to show their displeasure with changes to busing for the fall.

Parents say they’ve been notified their kids – some as young as 10 years old – will not have access to yellow school buses, and would need to use alternative solutions like public transit in order to get to class in the fall.

READ MORE: Alberta’s education minister suggests busing fees are at the root of CBE operational review

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The students attend alternative school programs, like the one offered at Sir Wilfred Laurier School.

The parents are calling on the school board to reinstate dedicated busing for their children and say they’re willing to put up the cash.

Parents protest Calgary Board of Education decision to remove dedicated busing for students attending alternative programs. John Himpe/ News Talk 770

“It could be any alternative bus service, we don’t care about that,” said Balraj Nijjar, whose 10-year-old son attends the alternative program at Sir Wilfred Laurier School.

He told News Talk 770 that his son will no longer have CBE busing available to him in the fall. It means the 10-year-old, will now have to spend three hours commuting to and from school each day.

READ MORE: New Calgary busing fees announced for fall

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To get there he’ll have to transfer from a city bus to the CTrain and then walk another 15 minutes.

“Please give us a dedicated route; just school runs. A school express service. We are okay with that too, we are willing to pay [for] bus passes. We don’t have any problem with that,” he added.

Board director of transportation, Carrie Edwards, said the CBE has worked with Calgary Transit and has been advised that it is unable to provide dedicated routes.

“It is up to parents to decide whether that other mode of transportation is something they want to use as the way of getting their child to and from school,” she added.

Board chair Joy Bowen-Eyre told reporters she hopes parents will be able to find solutions to get their children to school.

“If parents continue to have conversations with one another and build community and see if there’s other options for them to carpool, or take turns getting children back and forth to a school of their choice, I know that’s what I’ve done in the past.”

“We would love to do more, but sometimes in tight budget times you are asked to do more with less,” Bowen-Eyre said.

“We’ve rolled out this transportation plan over the last few weeks and we’ve had several information sessions with our families and our parents to help alleviate some concerns.”

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The board said it would need more funding to change transportation plans for those students.

In a statement Tuesday, the Alberta government said it has given the CBE more than $18 million over the last three budgets to address school fee reductions.

“All school fee schedules with an increase of more than five per cent must receive my approval before fees are increased,” Education Minister David Eggen said in the statement.

“School boards have until the end of this month to provide me with their fee schedule for the upcoming school year.”

Transportation is on the agenda as part of the board’s budget conversations taking place Tuesday afternoon.

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