The CBE currently pays $7.4 million more for transportation services than is provided through provincial funding and user fees. We cover the deficit with funds from our overall budget, meaning less money is available to support our schools and system. This deficit grows every year.
In January 2020, the Board of Trustees directed CBE administration to plan for a balanced 2020-21 transportation budget whereby all transportation expenses are covered through provincial transportation funding and user fees, as part of the 2020-21 budget. The Board also directed administration to obtain community feedback to support the development of a balanced 2020-21 transportation budget.
Your voice is important.
Please participate in our
online survey to share your feedback.
For background on the survey, CBE transportation issues and actions we have taken to close the fiscal gap, visit the
Dialogue website and review our
Transportation Snapshot 2019-20.
Transportation Snapshot 2019-20
Our Budget Challenges
To support the success of every student, the CBE provides a higher level of service and supports than what is required and funded by the province. This has created a funding gap that has become unsustainable.
Mandated Distances vs Actual Distances
We are required to provide transportation services for students who live further than 2.4 km away from their designated community school*. We currently provide transportation to students who live more than 1.6 km from their designated school in Grades K-6, and 1.8 km in Grades 7-9.
Students with Complex Learning Needs
We are funded to provide specialized transportation services only to students with severe complex learning needs. We provide specialized services to many students who do not fit the provincial description. Funding levels have not changed since 2012, yet these costs continue to escalate signicantly. We are not permitted to charge a fee to transport these students.
Specialized Transportation Costs (actuals)
*Some students with complex needs are able to take regular buses.
Projected Total Cost vs. Funding*
*Numbers based on January 7, 2020
**If paying riders were to make up the difference, it would more than double the current fee of $365.00
How Will We Close the Gap?
In January 2020, the Board of Trustees passed a motion that transportation expenses must be covered by provincial transportation funding and user fees alone; reserve funding or educational funding can no longer be used to support transportation services. Trustees further directed that the CBE obtain community feedback in support of the development of a balanced 2020-21 transportation budget.
To close the gap, we can:
- reduce or eliminate services
- raise fees
- do a combination of both
*By law, a student’s designated school is the regular or special education program school that the student is assigned to by the school board, usually based on their home address.
What Measures Have We Taken to Close the Funding Gap?
The transportation funding gap has widened over the past five years. In that time we have completed one large-scale community engagement as well as three independent reviews of our transportation services to find ways to narrow the gap. We have implemented numerous recommendations, which have made our routes more efficient and doubled the number of students we transport per bus run compared to three years ago.
- Aligned bell times across schools to allow buses to run two or three routes within a single block of time
- Transitioned more students to Calgary Transit (Gr. 6 and up)
- Reviewed and renegotiated contracts with service providers
- Implemented congregated (community-based) stops for all alternative program riders
- Incorporated low ridership routes into existing routes
- Consulted with the Transportation Advisory Committee to aid in decision making and communication
- More than doubled the average number of students per bus
- Reviewed specialized transportation process (ongoing)
These changes have resulted in millions of dollars of savings annually since 2017-18.
To Learn More
What Does the Education Act Require Us to Provide?
- Students residing more than 2.4 km away from their designated school (fee permitted)
- Students in specialized programs who require specialized transportation (no fee permitted)
- Students in specialized programs who can use general transportation services (fee permitted)
- Children who attend Early Development Centres, i.e. preschool for those with developmental delays (no fee permitted)
What Additional Services and Supports Do We Provide?
- Students who live less than 2.4 km away from their designated school
- Students enrolled in alternative programs
- Kindergarten students to school and back home (funding received does not reflect the actual cost)
- Launch transportation survey in early March, 2020 to gather feedback from parents, students, staff and other stakeholders on how the CBE can provide a safe, reliable and cost-efficient program. Specifically, the 2020-21 budget gap must be closed.
- Adjust service levels and fees to balance the 2020-21 transportation budget.