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Bus fees on the rise for CBE schools

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 4:28 pm MDT

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CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The hammer is falling on parents, as the Calgary Board of Education deals with provincial budget restraints.

The board has announced busing fees are rising for the 2020/2021 school year in an effort to balance the transportation budget.

For kids going to their designated school, the cost will go up to $465 a year.

Meanwhile, students going to alternate programs, or who don’t live further than 2.4 kilometres from their school will be paying $800 a year.

The CBE also said Kindergarten students in half-day programs will be transported one-way only, with those costs reaching $400 a year.

Danny Breton with the CBE said there are options for parents who can’t afford the fees.

“(We) do have a waiver process in place and it will continue to exist going forth to ensure that, at no time, a student is denied an education simply because of the fact that they don’t have the financial means to attend their school.”

Other changes introduced include moving more students in Grade six or above to Calgary Transit and adjusting bell times at 20 schools to allow for efficiencies for the routes.

While the CBE has said budget restraints brought on by the UCP government led to the rise in costs, Barbara Silva with Support our Students said there are other factors in play.

“The Calgary Board, unfortunately, has a role in this as well in the sense that they’ve been providing a plethora of choices that is simply unsustainable and they need to work around this. I think families should not be having to leave their communities to access programs that are only perceived as better, they don’t actually have better outcomes.”

She said it’s a shame so many students need to travel long distances to get to school.

“If you are leaving your community to access a science program or a language program, why is your community school that is within distance that doesn’t require transportation not offering comprehensive, rich programming like those other schools. That’s what Calgarian families need to start demanding.”

Registration for the transportation services opens May 19 with the CBE encouraging families to register by June 14 to help the board plan for routes in the upcoming school year.

“Any changes to transportation fees were decisions made solely by the Calgary Board of Education. For the 2020-21 school year, the CBE is receiving an increase of approximately $20 million in government funding, including $1.7 million in additional funding for transportation. It should be noted that no other school division has increased fees this significantly,” said Colin Aitchison, Press Secretary for the Office of the Minister of Education.