School buses are ready to roll for the new school year.

Some Sooke students could get free bus ride

Sooke School District receives $358,000 to help ease costs on delivering students to public schools.

  • Sep. 2, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Sooke School District bus students could soon get a free ride.

The district will receive a $358,000 grant from the B.C. Education Ministry this week to help pay for student bus services.

There’s a catch to that free ride though.

While it will remove fees for catchment area students, those who aren’t in catchment radius are subject to the same yearly fees of $225, said education board chair Bob Phillips, adding every school has its own proximity requirements.

For Journey Middle and Edward Milne Community schools, the range goes from East Sooke to Port Renfrew, while elementary schools have much smaller catchment areas.

The Sooke School District has 503 students out of the school proximity area, largely due to specialty programs located at specific schools, such as French immersion and academies.

International students also need to pay for their own school busing services.

Phillips said the school board’s bigger concern is how many waivers, or non-payers, for school bus services there will be in the new school year, as district officials need to allocate additional funds to subsidize the school budget.

Last year, Sooke School District transported 2,700 students by bus, most from the district’s rural areas, but if that number swells this year, which is expected, there may be some issues.

“If our enrolment is high and it breaks in the wrong financial direction that means we have to put in another bus route at $30,000,” Phillips said, adding the cost remains the same regardless of distance.

Phillips gave the example of what would happen if a child was enrolled in special programs, like the Grade 5 class running out of Sooke Elementary, similar to a modified nature program.

“Let’s say your child lived in Otter Point and there was a space and you want to get them into that program, you’d be out of catchment,” he said.

The other out of catchment scenario would be a child with special needs who would be more suitable for a better program at one elementary school, compared to another, Phillips added.

Much to parents’ dismay, routes could be altered based on volume and where the students are located.

“As soon as you change your bus route, some gain and some lose, so it’s not to say that the routes wouldn’t be played around with,” Philips said.

As far as the grant is concerned, nothing is yet set in stone, said Sooke School District spokesperson Lindsay Vogan.

“They need to decide if students who take the bus to a school not in their catchment will need to pay or not,” she said, adding that the government fund can only be put towards student bus fees who take the bus to their local or catchment school.

Vogan pointed out the situation is complicated, which is why the discussion between parents and the school board is ongoing.

 

 

Just Posted

T’Sou-ke Nation and CRD sign land use agreement for Sea to Sea Regional Park

T’Sou-ke Nation and the Capital Regional District ratified an agreement yesterday on… Continue reading

Premier promises to make Juan de Fuca Marine Trail a priority

Group says trail needs increased investment and attention

Police warn businesses of counterfeit American money in Victoria

United States Secret Service investigate with VicPD

Program helps families on tight budgets afford healthy foods

Nutritional coupon program allows participants to buy more fruits, vegetables

Sidney seeks transparency over proposed Beacon building

First significant redevelopment along main street is a five-storey structure

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Court to hear claim that Saanich silenced speaker

The fight over a controversial bylaw designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas… Continue reading

More than 20,000 pounds of garbage removed from riverside homeless camps

Two camps taken down last week on the banks of the Fraser and Chilliwack rivers

Suspect in Revelstoke standoff killed himself: RCMP

Mohammadali Darabi, suspect in the Calgary homicide of his roommate, was stopped in Revelstoke

Clinton visits Vancouver, applauds Trudeau, celebrates Democrats’ win in Alabama

Clinton told crowd she cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

VIDEO: Salt Spring Islanders ferry piano to their floating home

Everyone enjoys a little music on the water, but not everyone has a piano on their boat

Victoria water main break forces closure of George Jay elementary for the day

City crews were able to restore water service to school by mid-afternoon

Vikes make bid to host national men’s basketball championships in 2019

Langford, Bear Mountain join UVic bid for nationals

Bomb detonated in Kamloops neighbourhood

Kamloops RCMP are investigating after an improvised explosive device was detonated Wednesday morning

Most Read