Transportation affordability, accessibility key aims of fund
Students and families throughout B.C. will soon have access to an expanded and more affordable transportation options thanks to $14.7 million, under the new Student Transportation Fund.
From that fund, school districts No. 5 and 6 (Southeast Kootenay and Rocky Mountain) are eligible to receive $361,459 and $369,399.
Education Minister Mike Bernier made the announcement with school district officials August 10 at the Dawson Creek school board office.
School districts can apply for the funding to help parents with transportation costs and services, whether they use the usual yellow bus program or work with local transit operators.
The handful of districts that currently charge families a transportation fee for a student’s local or catchment area school must eliminate those fees to be eligible for the funding. All districts need to use the funding for transportation services to be eligible.
Funding can also be used in a variety of ways including: improving service by adding new or amended routes; improving access to local transit services; providing accessible services for students with disabilities; reducing ride times; boosting student safety by relocating bus stops and improving bus supervision; and funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.
“As a parent in a rural community, I know about the challenges of getting kids to school on time and then getting them home at the end of the day. This funding will help districts provide better bus and transportation services at lower costs to parents,” Bernier said. “This past June, government returned $25 million in administrative savings to districts – and many of them had found those savings in their transportation money. With close to $15 million more funding flowing to districts parents will see districts enhancing services and eliminating fees.”
To be eligible for funding, districts must submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by Sept. 30, 2016, outlining how they will use the funding to boost transportation services for students and families. Districts will hear back shortly after they submit their applications on how much funding they will receive.
The amount of funding a district is eligible for is based on a formula tied to the Ministry of Education’s student location factor, which is used to determine the rural makeup of a school district. Districts will also be required to report back on the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.