About 37,000 students are transported to Calgary Board of Education schools every day. The reasons for this are varied. In some cases, it is because funding for new schools has not kept pace with the growth of new communities; students need to travel to schools out of their neighbourhoods. In other cases, families choose to send their children to alternative programs. Some students’ exceptional learning needs are best met in special settings outside their neighbourhoods. As a result, CBE students use either school buses or Calgary Transit.
Transporting students is a financial challenge because the costs exceed provincial funding. The CBE charges fees to parents to close the funding gap. For the 2014-15 school year, fees were set at $330 per year for all students, regardless of program, individual need or distance travelled.
CBE Transportation Services are funded by the provincial government based on their estimate of the number of students living beyond 2.4 km from school. Also, funding is not provided for schools in overflow or alternative programming. The cost of the current service delivery model for CBE is well beyond this level of funding. The Board of Trustees voted to exhaust CBE reserves to reduce the deficit, but a funding gap remains. For this reason, fees for school bus transportation increased to $330 and there will be changes to transportation service delivery.
For the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, elementary and junior high students may be expected to travel up to 1.4 km from home to a community bus stop. Students in alternative programs will continue to be served at congregated stops, some of which are beyond these limits.
The CBE continues to provide a rebate of $19 per month to students in Grades 6 to 12 who are eligible to use Calgary Transit for transportation to and from school.
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August 26, 2014