School bus fees return for some St. Albert and Sturgeon County students

Two school districts who have reinstated transportation fees cite the Alberta government's recently announced budget cuts as the reason for upcoming bus bills.

Fees affect students that ride the school bus more than 2.4 kilometres

A school bus is parked outside Vital Grandin Catholic School in St. Albert. Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools will charge transportation fees for the current school year. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Some parents in St. Albert and Sturgeon County will be getting bills for school bus fees they didn't expect to pay.

The Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board and Sturgeon Public School Board both reinstated transportation fees last week, after two years of not charging students who ride the school bus more than 2.4 kilometres.

In 2017, the NDP government created the School Fee Reduction grant of $407,000 for eligible riders, but the UCP axed the grant in the latest Alberta budget. 

"It is regretful to have to do this mid-year, but we do understand and the board understands that we are working in a new environment, a new fiscal reality and we have to look at restructuring and re-imagining ourselves," said Rhonda Nixon, assistant superintendent of learning services for Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.

Both school districts cite the budget cut for reinstatement of transportation fees.

Parents of Greater St. Albert Catholic School students who ride from rural areas will owe $255, while students living in urban areas will pay $313. They will have to pay retroactively for the 2019-2020 school year.

A student walks onto a bus at Vital Grandin Catholic School, one of the schools in the Greater St. Albert Catholic School District. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Sturgeon Public Schools will not charge parents retroactively for transportation fees, but will instead charge them a new fee starting in January at a cost of $153 per student. 

"Although we lost the grants for the school year [the board] didn't think it would be appropriate to impact families all the way back to September," said Mary Lynne Campbell, Sturgeon Public Schools superintendent. "It would be more appropriate to give sufficient notice and to try to limit the impact on families as much as possible."

The St. Albert Public School board will discuss transportation fees at its public board meeting Dec. 11.


Travis McEwan


Travis McEwan is a video journalist who has not won any awards. Originally from Churchill, Man., he's spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca


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