Sask. town kids may no longer be bused to school
Education ministry says change came in the wake of consultation
Students who take the bus to school in Saskatchewan towns may have to find another way to get to classes in the fall.
The provincial government has changed the way it pays for school transportation in the wake of a province-wide review.
We're all parents and we understand the angst this is causing.- Ronna Pethick, Living Sky School Division chair
It will no longer provide money to get kids in communities with fewer than 5,000 people to the local school.
Children in rural areas will still be bused to school and the province will continue to pay for city kids who live more than a kilometre away from school to take the bus.
Ronna Pethick, chair of Living Sky School Division in the west-central part of the province, says in her division, the change will affect children in the communities of Spiritwood, Battleford, Wilkie, Unity and Kerrobert.
"We're all parents and we understand the angst this is causing, but we are having to make some very difficult decisions," she said.
"Unfortunately, this is one of them. But we want to keep our limited resources as close to the classroom as we can."
Shawn Davidson, president of the province's school boards association, says this is the problem with one-size-fits-all solutions.
"There may be a situation where the school is on one corner of town and there's people, students, that live within town limits that are more than a kilometre away from school because they live on the opposite corner of town," he said.
"Or there may be situations where there's a highway that poses some safety risks."
Divisions were consulted: province
The provincial government says it did extensive consultations with all school divisions before making the change.
Donna Johnson, assistant deputy minister of education, said prior to the decision, every school division in the province was consulted on what they were already doing.
"The majority of the school divisions and the communities of less than 5,000 did not provide busing," she said.
Johnson says the ministry is talking to Living Sky School Division about the town of Battleford, which would be affected by this change.
She said it may consider a change for students in that town, given its proximity to the city of North Battleford, which will still bus students.
She noted that while the government is not dedicating money to busing in smaller communities, school divisions can pay for it if they decide it is warranted.
Pethick said with a $3-million cut to the division's budget this year, on top of a similar reduction last year, the division cannot afford to backfill provincial cuts.