Update| Transportation application deadline extended to June 12
The following letter was sent to CBE parents/guardians from Board Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre and Chief Superintendent David Stevenson on May 31, 2016 to announce the service levels and fee for transportation for the 2016-17 school year.
This year, we have reviewed our transportation service model to ensure that we continue to deliver safe and efficient transportation for our students and move towards reducing the $13 million dollar funding gap for transportation.
We would like to thank all of our students, parents, staff and other stakeholders who have taken the time to provide us with their feedback through online surveys and in-person sessions. We value your time and have considered all that we heard.
Based on your feedback and what we have learned from an independent audit, we have determined the service levels and fees for the 2016-17 school year. We have tried to minimize changes for the coming year while ensuring fair and affordable transportation for the majority of the 39,000 students taking transportation.
Pre-registration required by June 6
We heard that parents want to know their yellow school bus routes earlier, so they can plan for the upcoming school year. We responded by launching a new pre-registration process. This will allow us to post the proposed routes by the end of July. Thank you to all parents who have already submitted their pre-registration. In order to build effective routes for the fall with the most accurate data, we ask that all parents of children who are considering using the yellow school bus service next year to please pre-register by Monday, June 6. You can cancel by September 30, 2016 with no financial penalty.
More students to travel less distance to a yellow school bus stop
The service levels for the 2016-17 school year are outlined in the attached information sheet. We heard from parents that they wanted shorter travel distances to a yellow school bus stop. Our current CBE guidelines for yellow school bus transportation are that elementary students will access a stop within 1.6 km of their homes and middle school/junior high students will access a stop within 1.8 km of their homes. This year, we anticipate that most students in a regular program and the larger alternative programs will have a stop within 1000 m from home. We can do this because of the density of students within a community accessing these schools and programs. Some exceptions may occur due to the geographic location of some student addresses.
Students in some non-language alternative programs will return to the use of congregated stops where it is not feasible financially to do otherwise. In most cases, these students will return to congregated stops, similar to service offered in the 2014-15 school year. Congregated stops serve students at a distance over the walk guideline. They are only used when there are very low numbers of riders from a community to a school and could be up to 5 km from their homes. The longest distances to a yellow school bus stop will be for students travelling across the city to a program at a single site. Their travel distance to the stop will vary based on the number of students and their locations in relation to the school they attend.
We will continue to explore opportunities for moving more Grade 7-9 students to Calgary Transit, where feasible. The majority of Grades 10-12 students will continue to access Calgary Transit on existing routes or dedicated buses. Mid-day kindergarten service will also continue.
2016-17 proposed transportation fee for yellow bus service of $335
Based on what we heard, we have tried to keep to a modest fee increase. We are proposing a fee increase of $35, from $300 to $335 per year for all riders, regardless of program or distance travelled to school. While this is a $35 increase from the current year, it is only $5 more than the fee from 2014-15. The increase will generate about $1 million that will be applied to covering part of the gap in funding. For next year, we will continue to subsidize transportation from the CBE Budget. This proposed fee will not be final until the CBE 2016-17 Budget is approved by the Board of Trustees in June.
Next steps on a long-term transportation strategy
Conversations will continue next year as we work to finalize a long-term master plan. We heard through our engagement activities that parents wanted us to see if there is another way to set transportation service level guidelines beyond just considering the program a student attends. We are working towards developing a set of criteria that also take into consideration other factors such as geographic location and student population density in a community. We will continue to work with you on our long-term transportation plans, including adjusting future service levels and fees to eliminate the current subsidy for transportation.
Thank you for your support as we strive to continuously improve transportation services and still remain financially responsible.