For Ward 5 Parkland School Division Trustee (Spruce Grove)
Let’s Talk Transportation Fees
Parkland School Division (PSD) operates one of the largest regional transportation systems in Alberta. Not only does it provide services to our own children, it also provides bussing to Evergreen Catholic Separate School System, limited bussing to 6 other school divisions, 3 private schools, and other special needs programs. The system contracts 176 busses and travels 16 000 kilometres daily. It also employs 11 transfer site supervisors. PSD provides an excellent bussing transportation service and the Minister of Education has indicated that our system should be a model for the province.
Funding: By Ministerial Order, all school divisions, including PSD, are required to provide free bussing to any student living in excess of 2.4 kilometres of their designated school.The Alberta government funds this portion. Bussing under 2.4 km, but more than 900 metres, to a student’s designated school has been offered on a full cost recovery basis (via fees) for a number of years now. This portion of the transportation system must be self-sustained. The current School Act describes the process by which a Board may determine fees. Funding from the government for instruction for students cannot be used to subsidize transportation.
Fees: Bus fees are intended to balance the cost of operating an efficient, effective, service-oriented transportation system. Bus fees for less than 2.4 km are established yearly by the Board and in the 2017-2018 bus fee schedule, there were a couple of changes made: (1) the $50 Transportation Rider Fee was dropped, but $50 was then added across other fee categories within the transportation fee schedule, resulting in a net-zero change in total fees charged, (2) every student (Early Childhood Service – Grade 12) who intends to occupy more than one seat where an additional route was required shall pay an additional ‘seat fee.’ In other words, students who need to be dropped off at a different address in the afternoon are actually tying-up two bus seats, thus the extra charge. If you compare the 2016-2017 fee guide to the 2017-2018 fee schedule, you will see that only those parents requiring the extra ‘seat fee’ saw a significant change in their transportation fees. And if you compare to other school systems offering the same type of service, you will immediately see that we have a very reasonable fee structure.
The current School Board, senior administration and the Director of Transportation have spent a great deal of time trying to provide an effective and safe system at the lowestcost possible for our parents. Trustees and senior administration continually lobby our provincial government to recognize the escalating costs of running such a large system.
In addition to the actual student bussing, other transportation services are also offered:
Student tracking via scanned identification cards for all K – 4 students (hopefully to expand to K – 12 in 2017-2018)
GPS tracking of buses through the use of REID cards, which are provided to all bus operators
Website services (psd70.ab.ca) to check bus route status, weather policies, fees, and other general information
School bus safety programs for K – 7 students in 15 different schools via in-class presentations and school bus evacuation drills
Implementation of the ‘First Ride’ program prior to the commencement of the school year to teach new students and parents about the school bus system (includes an actual bus ride)
Safety support services for bus drivers, including route monitoring, safe stop assessments, school bus ‘Roadeo’ (a bus driving skills competition), bus operator safety seminars, and first-aid training