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Fewer Kids Registered For School Buses


Blog by Robert McLean | December 23rd, 2009


Fewer Kids Registered For School Buses

 

Fewer students than usual will be riding the bus to school when classes start on Tuesday.

As part of an action plan to meet a $4.8 million shortfall from the last school year, the Langley School District endorsed a new fee schedule for children who take the bus to and from school.

All children who attend school must register, as must those who intend to take the bus. However, as of Aug. 31, 1,585 students had registered, which is well below last year's figure.

In the 2008/09 school year, 2,700 students rode the bus, 1,000 more than the year before. The 2,700 students represented 14 per cent of the district's 18,284 students.

But even though the figure for this year is down, it is anticipated to climb by the time all children register, said school district spokesman Craig Spence.

Students who use buses will pay $20 a month, or $200 for the school year. If there are two students in the family, the fee is $350, and three or more, $450.

Students who need a bus ride to school but attend only part time pay proportionately less. The district has implemented discounts for those families who cannot afford the extra fees.

The fee schedule is part of an action plan the board of education approved when it was discovered that an anticipated surplus was wiped out by the shortfall. The deficit is the result of miscalculations, and a report by international auditors Deloitte, which investigated the mistakes, is imminent.

The errors left the transportation department with a $582,000 shortfall in its annual budget which runs at around $2.1 million.

Eligible riders are students who live within their neighbourhood school catchment area and those whose homes are situated beyond the designated walk limits.

The School Act and Langley School District policy state that elementary children who live within 3.2 km of their schools are expected to walk to school; the walk limit for secondary school students is 4.8 km.

Spence said that the district is not accepting registration for students who live outside the catchment area until the applications from catchment students have been processed. This could take until the middle of October, he said.