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Busing & Transportation

Busing & Transportation Service Levels & Fees Frequently Asked Questions

Service Levels & Fees Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there service level and fee adjustments?

In January 2020, the Board of Trustees directed CBE administration to balance transportation costs using only provincial funding and user fees. They also asked that feedback be gathered in support of the development of a balanced 2020-21 transportation budget. As a result, an online survey was available in March 2020.

What was the result of the survey?

We were pleased to have extremely high participation on this survey, with 10,000 responses. All of the feedback gathered through the survey was reviewed and carefully considered in making decisions about the 2020-21 transportation budget and services.  We have followed through on the survey feedback to use a combination of fee increases and reducing non-mandated services to balance the budget.

Where can I find more information about the survey?

The full survey results, facts about the 2019-20 transportation budget and services and more information about the 2020 transportation engagement is available at

What is my fee and service level?  Why?

2020-21 Transportation Fees & Services


Fee for students who live further than 2.4 km away from their designated community school: $465/year.

Maintain as low a fee as possible for mandated services.

Fee for students in specialized programs who can use general transportation (mandated: government requires us to provide): $465/year.

Maintain as low a fee as possible for mandated services.

Fee for students who live between 1.6 and 2.4 km from school or who attend alternative programs (non-mandated: not required by government to provide): $800/year.

Transportation for elementary students in the regular program who live 1.6-2.4 km from school was rated as the most important non-mandated service on the survey. Transportation for alternative programs is rated as the second most important non-mandated service by families taking yellow bus transportation and third overall.
These two services are important to families and yet the CBE is not funded for these services. As a result, the services have been maintained but the fee is higher than for mandated services.

Students in specialized programs required to take specialized transportation will not pay a fee.

Maintain direction provided by government.

Kindergarten students will be transported one-way only. This means that students in the morning program will have transportation to school and students in the afternoon program will have transportation to their home at the end of the school day. No mid-day service offered.

Survey feedback indicates a preference for the transportation budget to be balanced through a combination of increasing fees and reducing non-mandated services. Two-way kindergarten transportation is a non-mandated service.

Fees for kindergarten students will be 50 per cent of the non-mandated fee.  $800 x 50% = $400

Fee reflects one-way transportation service.

Some students in Grade 6 or above who currently take the yellow bus may be taking Calgary Transit.  Letters will be sent to families at the affected schools.

Continue to gain efficiencies where possible; part of ongoing work that began in 2016-17.

Bell time adjustments are being made at approximately 20 CBE schools in 2020-21.  Letters will be sent to families at the affected schools.

Bell time changes were required to provide more efficient transportation services overall.

For families with students in specialized programs, more information will be shared about adjustments to transportation services for 2020-21.

This is information relevant for some CBE schools not all schools and families.

When do I register for transportation?

You can register for 2020-21 transportation starting on May 19, 2020 using your PowerSchool Parent Portal Account.

Are these changes really necessary considering the impact on families?

These are difficult decisions and financially challenging times. We know these changes will have a significant impact on some families, but these changes are necessary to ensure the CBE has a balanced transportation budget that does not require funds to be redirected from the classroom to subsidize transportation.

What if I cannot pay the fee due to financial hardships?

No child is ever denied access to an education in the CBE because of an inability to pay. There are several ways to be considered eligible for a waiver, including but not limited to:
  • you recei​ve assistance from Provincial Social Services;
  • your family is eligible for the Alberta Child Health Benefit;
  • you are a Government Sponsored Conventional Refugee;
  • you have been approved by the City of Calgary's Fair Entry Program;
  • your do not have the documents listed above but have a low income and Treaty Status; or
  • you are an independent student living away from home.
Applications can be made online at MyCBE/PowerSchool​.

If your application for a waiver is denied, please review our Extraordinary Circumstance Waiver page for further support.​

Does this mean classes will resume at the start of next school year?

We are making these plans for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, however, the re-opening of schools is based on recommendations of the government. Re-entry plans have not been finalized.

School Hours and Bell Times

Why do these changes need to be made?

Bell times are directly connected to transportation services. The cost of a yellow school bus is based on a block of time. The more routes a single bus can run during this block of time, the more cost-effective the transportation service is. Aligning bus times allows a bus to run two, and in some cases three, routes during each block of time.

Who made this decision? Who decides bell times?

In the past, Principals worked with their Education Director in consultation with their school communities and the Transportation Department to establish bell times. Since 2017, bell times have been set centrally and communicated to schools.

Will bell times change again next year?

We expect that bell times for most schools will remain consistent year to year, however, bell times will be reviewed and may be adjusted annually based on enrolment or programming changes.

How will my child’s lunch hour be affected?

A change in start and end times for a school can mean a change in the time set aside for lunch hour. The setting of lunch hour times is at the principal’s discretion and reflects the unique circumstances of each school.

CBE elementary schools provide an average lunch hour of around 55 minutes and at junior high/middle schools, an average of around 45 minutes. This allows students who remain at school approximately 20 minutes to eat and additional time for activity. For students who do not to stay for lunch, this time allows for them to walk home, eat and return to school.

How will bell time changes affect the scheduling of classes at my child’s school? Will the hours of instruction be affected?

"Timetabling," or the scheduling of classes, is an activity completed by school administration and school staff annually. Timetables are developed for each division of students (K-6, 7-9 and 10-12) and specialized settings using the required hours of instruction. The mandatory hours of instruction are established by Alberta Education and bell time changes do not compromise these requirements. Each school is responsible for scheduling classes according to the legislated instructional minutes for each grade configuration and bell time changes do not affect this requirement.

What do teachers do with extra time on early dismissal days?

Early dismissal days provide an opportunity for teachers to engage in ongoing professional development and may also provide times for meetings with parents to support student success. Early dismissals allow time for educators to collaborate as teams as part of a formal process called Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to plan and improve student learning. PLCs and professional development are integral components to teacher development and enhancing teaching and learning for students. This work is connected to each school’s School Development Plan as well as the CBE Three-Year Education
Plan. Common time to meet as a whole staff provides an opportunity to ensure there is strong continuity across the school and CBE system with respect to best practices in support of student learning and achievement.

Will extracurricular activities be impacted if my school experiences a bell time change?

The change in bell times should not affect extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities depend on staff availability, skill set and interest and may vary from year to year. These decisions are made by school staff at the beginning of the school year and, once determined, will be communicated to each unique community.

When can I drop my child off at school in the morning?

Supervision of students is provided 15 minutes prior to the start of school and 10 minutes before the afternoon bell. This means that students should arrive on school grounds no sooner than 10-15 minutes before school begins and must be supervised by their parent or caregiver if they arrive earlier.

How will bell time changes affect before and after school care programs in our school?

Before and after school care programs that are housed within CBE schools may need to adjust their schedules to meet the earlier or later arrival or dismissal of students. In most cases, these changes should have minimal impact on these programs.

Why is my early dismissal time changing?

Bell times are directly connected to transportation services. This includes school start time, dismissal time and early dismissal days. If a school without an early dismissal day is paired with one or more schools that do have early dismissals, the schools must align their dismissals for our transportation service to maximize cost-effectiveness.

If students are dismissed early, do they miss instructional time?

No. Instructional time requirements are mandated by the School Act, and every school must meet these requirements.

Is early dismissal a common practice?

Almost all CBE schools have an early dismissal day.

Will earlier start times have a negative impact on student learning?

Throughout the CBE, many schools currently have early start times. We have not identified a negative impact on student learning. To gain efficiencies in transportation services, school start and end times need to be adjusted.

Working within our guidelines, we aim to have students begin busing at 7:00 a.m. Some may begin at a later time. For some specialized programs, it is not always possible to fall within these guidelines and some students may begin busing earlier.

Why are many feeder schools no longer able to travel on the same buses and have their bell times closely aligned?

The CBE pays service providers for a block of time (90 minutes per shift). By aligning bell times, we are able to have buses complete two or three routes within that timeframe. There needs to be sufficient time between bell times for the bus to travel between a previous run’s end point, and a subsequent run’s starting point as well as complete the subsequent run. Double or triple routing reduces the overall cost of busing because fewer buses are required. This model was recommended in a third-party transportation service review conducted in the 2015-16 school year.

If we eliminate the alternative programs, does this eliminate the transportation budget problems?

The CBE values choice and eliminating alternative programs does not align with that value.
How will the CBE support families with increased before-and-after-school care needs resulting from these changes? Where we can provide this service in our schools, we do. Some of our schools are full and don’t have space available to provide this service. Parents can contact their school principal to discuss what is possible for their school community.

What is the earliest possible start time and latest possible end time, and how do you determine what is appropriate?

For bell times, the earliest start time is 7:50 a.m. and the latest end time is 4:05 p.m.


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