Trustee pens letter on busing for SD 20 Board of Education
I will be voting against the proposed 2016/2017 budget. This budget contains a school-defining item slated for budget reduction . It is the beginning of the demise of fully funded public busing. Everyone associates the picture of the yellow-and-black bus with school. Restricting the operations of the school bus program strikes at the very core of the public’s education system.
The busing proposal is not a solid based cost figure. It is a potential cost savings estimate of $250,000. What if some children have other means of getting to their school? What happens if parents decide not to pay? Do we leave the child standing at the side of the road? Do we charge the parents, have the parents fined, do we garnishee the parent’s wages, do we put them in jail? I do not know, but I do know it will not be $250,000 worth of savings. We are balancing the budget with numbers, not with actual costs and savings. When we are not able to save $250,000, what do we do then, what other budget items do we cut?
If things go the way they often do, get ready for more charges next year Less bus routes, adjustments on who can and who cannot use the bus service. This number flummery may satisfy the Ministry of Education’s demand for a balanced budget, but it is not an example of good stewardship of the public’s funds.
The District has the issue of affordability. Not every family can afford $200 a year per child. Are we balancing the budget on those who can least afford it, or on their children? How many rules and exceptions do we need to make to make this decision work? Already there is discussion to charge only $500 if you have three children using the bus system.
School bus services are not just another form of transport. The service provides safety for children, especially children in Kindergarten through to Grade 4. In rural areas such as ours during the winter months roads are not cleared to provide walkways for young children. I shudder at the though of primary children walking along Broadwater Road during winter months. There is a big difference between Broadwater Road and Commercial Avenue.
I draw your attention to the crush of school closures that were made in the name of balanced budgets Closed schools in School District 20 (9 and 11) over the past some 30 years of my involvement with these school districts:
Pass Creek Elementary
Kinnaird Middle School
Blueberry Creek Elementary
Valley Vista Elementary
Cook Avemue Elementary
Trail Middle School
Beaver Valley Middle School
Rossland High School (grades 10-12)
So…Are we rolling in money yet?
I do believe we need to balance budgets, but not by striking at the very core of that which we are sworn to defend.
As the parents of our School District are showing in their petition to the Minister of Education: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
I am voting against this budget for some of the reasons I have stated. I have taken my concerns to the Citizen/Parents in our School Districts, my fellow trustees, and to the Minister of Education, before I came to the final decision of not support this budget. I cannot see primary children having their safety compromised for the sake of a flimsily balanced budget.
SD 20 Trustee