File photo

WCPS, STAR Catholic raise busing fees

Both school divisions hike fees to compensate for budget changes

Parents will pay more to transport their kids to school as both local school divisions have raised their fees for next year.

Both Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) and St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division approved hikes in busing fees to families, at their most recent board meetings, in order to maintain current service levels following budget cuts from the province for the 2020-2021 school year.

STAR trustees passed a jump of $30 at their May 20 meeting, increasing the fee to $500 per student up to a maximum of $1,000 per family.

According to a news release, trustees consulted with various school councils in the division to come up with the increase.

As for WCPS, the fees for field trips and cross boundary bussing has risen.

The cross boundary administration fee (for students bused outside their designated area) has also been increased from $100 to $200 per student.

“The increase reflects a more appropriate accounting of the administration time necessary to accommodate non-required transportation,” Burke said.

“The cross boundary fee was implemented last year in anticipation of a recommendation from our transportation study. The fee was reviewed this year, taking into account the administration time, which includes responding to questioning, collecting and reviewing applications, and appropriately placing students for non-required transportation.”

Trustees also approved an increase to the cost parents will pay for field trips, by hiking the per kilometre fee from $1.20 to $1.60.

“The field trip fees are a cost recovery, which the board has been subsidizing for a number of years. The increase to $1.60 per kilometre was to bring the fee to a more competitive reimbursement” said Burke.

“This will be implemented for curricular and extra curricular field trips.”

There remains no fee for students who live more than 2.4 km from their designated school.

However, for any student that lives closer than that distance and wants to ride the bus, the fee will be be $500 per student to a maximum of $1,000 per family.

The discussion noted that the average trip for these students is 1.1 km at a cost of about $462 annually. If bus replacement is included that cost jumps to about $789.

According to WCPS communications coordinator Vince Burke, the fee was the same as last year following the reversal by the UCP government of changes instituted by the NDP to remove transportation fees.

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