Transportation Fees

Superintendent's Information Letter to Parents  - (please click for the link)

 

Podcasts regarding Transportation Fees


PART ONE

PART TWO

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions – Transportation fee increase

UPDATE February 6, 2020:

Reduced Transportation Fee for Kindergarten students:
The Board passed a motion at the February 5 Board of Trustees Meeting that bus fees for Kindergarten students, because it is a mandated
half-time program, will be reduced by 50%. The original motion to increase the fees for all
students who use the Chinook's Edge bus service, including a new fee for rural students riding
the bus, was passed at the January 15th Board Meeting. The fee structure will be in place at the
start of the 2020-2021 school year.  

Additional questions updated on January 17, 2020

My child is in Kindergarten two days / week. Will this fee apply?
Yes, no matter how many days a student is actually riding the bus, we still need to reserve a seat on the bus for them. 
Please note that after posting the above answer, it has been determined that this particular item involving Kindergarten needs to be examined further. We will confirm the information regarding Transportation fees for Kindergarten students as soon as a review has been completed.

My child is 16 years old and will be driving themselves to school some days. If they only ride the bus once in a while do they still have to pay?
Yes, no matter how many days a student is actually riding the bus, we still need to reserve a seat on the bus for them.

My child is driving themselves to school now and no longer needs to ride the bus. Do they still need to pay?
No, the fee only applies to students registered to ride on the bus.

We  live in a rural area and my child does not ride the bus. Will I pay a rural fee?
No, the fee only applies to students registered to ride the bus.

My address is 2.39 km from the school and my cross-the-street neighbour is 2.41 km from the school. Will I need to pay these fees while they won't have to?
Yes. This is not an arbitrary decision, it is the actual border by which the government funds transportation. We receive grants for students who live over 2.4 km from school.

What if I can't afford this transportation fee?
Please refer to Admin Procedure 3-17/Section 17 and follow the directions in submitting a fee waiver form.  https://www.cesd73.ca/documents/general/AP%203%20-%2017%20School%20and%20Transportation%20Fees%202020%20Jan%2015.pdf

 

Original questions posted January 16, 2020:

Why are you making these changes to bus fees?
Because of a chronic, ongoing deficit in our Transportation budget each year, which is currently projected to be $1.2 million. As with all school divisions in Alberta, Chinook’s Edge is given a certain amount of money each year to provide transportation services and we must stay within that allotment or the shortfall must be made up from instructional dollars that would impact the classroom. Implementing this change to transportation fees provides a solution that will keep instructional dollars in the classroom, so that we can fulfill our core mandate of providing quality learning to over 11,000 students.

Why is there a new fee for me if I live in a rural area? Don’t you receive government funding to provide transportation?
In Chinook’s Edge, 67 out of 100 rural bus routes operate with fewer than 46 students and, as 46 is the number needed to ‘break-even’, these buses lose money each day. Our division does not receive sufficient grant funding to pay for the typical rural student, where the number of riders on our buses is under the break-even point. For the grant to cover the transportation costs, we would have to increase ride times and this would saddle students with unreasonable ride times.

When will this fee increase take affect?
At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

How are you making this change easier for families who rely on busing services?
We are adding an additional payment option so that families do not have to pay the entire bus fee upfront ( for the 2020-2021 school year, payment installments will be 50% any time prior to September 1st and the balance by February 1st.)

What is the difference between a ‘partially funded student’ and an ‘unfunded student’?
Chinook’s Edge receives funding for riders who live more than 2.4 km from their school, but that funding does not cover actual costs to provide bus service in our large rural area = partially funded. Chinook’s Edge receives no funding for riders who live closer than 2.4 km to their designated school = unfunded.

Are other school divisions facing this challenge?
Yes, both large metro centres and rural divisions across Alberta are facing Transportation deficits. Many are left with the same decision to raise bus fees (including Rocky View and Clearview divisions), and many are implementing this increase immediately. Chinook’s Edge Trustees chose not to implement mid-year increases and, therefore, the increase will take effect at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Why is this happening right now?
Chinook’s Edge has been dealing with a transportation deficit for several years, but changes in provincial funding has created a greater challenge this year. As well, our ability to implement fees has been disallowed for the past four years. The provincial government was elected last spring with an important part of their mandate focused on reducing Alberta’s deficit. Our province is adjusting to economic and political changes and our Board recognizes the provincial government has some tough decisions to make, as do school divisions, households and individuals. The provincial government’s inaugural budget announcement in the fall prompted various response measures, but our Board wants to be clear that the long-term budget challenges in Transportation have been chronic and ongoing through a number of provincial governments over many years.

How will you ensure funds will be directed to classroom resources so that we can retain classroom staff?
This will be reviewed regularly through established financial reporting processes, and then approved annually by the Board as part of annual budget discussions.

If we are not filling our buses, why are we continuing to purchase that size of bus?
There are other purposes for our buses that benefit students, such as field trips, for which they are frequently utilized.

What other alternatives has the Board explored before choosing to raise transportation fees?
Chinook’s Edge has dealt with a transportation deficit for the past 10 years and the Board has very few options available to address the complex situation to ensure funds are not required from instructional (classroom) funding to provide transportation services. The Board has worked extensively to find solutions and some of this work includes:

  • Entering a joint busing agreement with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools 
  • Establishing a fee structure for unfunded bus students who live closer than 2.4 km from their designated school
  • Considering using instructional funding each year
  • Consideration of:
    • stopping the transportation of all unfunded students who reside less than 2.4 km from their designated school
    • Including a basic surcharge in the school registration fees for all students, whether they ride a bus or not
    • transfering the entire responsibility of providing transportation to a third party transportation company through a contracted service (this was found to result in an even higher transportation deficit of over $1.5 million each year).
    • leasing versus purchasing of buses.