At their recent Board meeting on October 24th, the Board of Education approved additional funding for two buses in the current school year. One bus has been in operation since the beginning of the year to address overload situations and the other bus being added is an accessible bus for students requiring additional assistance. Staff have been keeping the Board updated on the challenges as a result of increased bus registrations and staff feel the additional buses will address these challenges in the current school year. As a result of this decision, the bus registration process for the 17/18 school year is now closed.
The Transportation Department is currently working on route changes due to the additional accessible bus added to the system and students/parents on affected routes will be notified by distribution by drivers of revised schedules on the affected buses shortly. Bus passes are also being produced and will be issued over the next few weeks. As in previous years, enforcement of bus passes will be communicated to parents/students once the passes are issued and this is expected to occur in late November or early December. Passes will be issued to students in middle and secondary schools only – elementary students will be placed on lists for each school and driver to ensure only registered riders are transported.
As noted above, based on the existing amounts of riders, staff feel these additional buses will address the challenges of the District’s increased registrations for the current school year. If overload situations continue, staff will review registrations on the impacted routes and will address the situation accordingly. If alternate routes can not be used to accommodate overload riders, some students may be removed from the approved rider list based on date of registration. If this situation occurs, staff will contact the impacted families.
Also at their October 24th meeting, the Board asked staff to convene a Transportation Committee to address the long term (next school year and beyond) transportation challenges facing the District. These challenges include increased ridership and levels of service as defined by ride and wait times. This committee will be looking at a number of options that may include:
Centralized pick up and drop off locations
Fees for students requiring transportation due to programs of choice
Fees for out of catchment students
Administration fees for processing of registrations
Rural vs. urban levels of service
The Committee will work through these options and others to arrive at recommendations to be provided to the Board at their January 23rd Board meeting. Staff will be looking for a number of parents to participate on this Committee and will be working with the Sooke Parents’ Education Advisory Council (SPEAC) to identify interested parents to participate in this process. It is anticipated that the Committee will meet up to 4 times prior to presenting to the Board. Members of the Committee can expect to meet in the late afternoon with the full list of meeting dates to be determined shortly.
Thank you for your ongoing patience as we work through these transportation related processes.
HAROLD CULL | SECRETARY TREASURER
School District #62 (Sooke)