Students and families throughout B.C. will soon have access to expanded and more affordable transportation options thanks to $14.7 million, under the new Student Transportation Fund.
Education Minister Mike Bernier made the announcement with school district officials today at the Dawson Creek school board office.
School districts can apply for the funding to help parents with transportation costs and services, whether they use the usual yellow bus program or work with local transit operators.
The handful of districts that currently charge families a transportation fee for a student’s local or catchment area school must eliminate those fees to be eligible for the funding. All districts need to use the funding for transportation services to be eligible.
Funding can also be used in a variety of ways, including:
- improving service by adding new or amended routes;
- improving access to local transit services;
- providing accessible services for students with disabilities;
- reducing ride times;
- boosting student safety by relocating bus stops and improving bus supervision; and,
- funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.
To be eligible for funding, districts must submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by Sept. 30, 2016, outlining how they will use the funding to boost transportation services for students and families. Districts will hear back shortly after they submit their applications on how much funding they will receive.
The amount of funding a district is eligible for is based on a formula tied to the Ministry of Education’s student location factor, which is used to determine the rural makeup of a school district. Districts will also be required to report back on the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.
As a result of B.C.'s strong economic growth and fiscal discipline, government is able to make key investments like the Student Transportation Fund to improve the lives of British Columbians.
Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –
“As a parent in a rural community, I know about the challenges of getting kids to school on time and then getting them home at the end of the day. This funding will help districts provide better bus and transportation services at lower costs to parents.
“This past June, government returned $25 million in administrative savings to districts – and many of them had found those savings in their transportation money. With close to $15 million more funding flowing to districts parents will see districts enhancing services and eliminating fees.”
Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North –
“I am extremely pleased that Minister Bernier and the ministry have found a way to fund busing for the constituents in my riding. This is an issue that I have been working very hard on and I am extremely pleased we have got it over the goal line.”
John Bird, president of BCCPAC –
“We welcome today’s announcement that the province is stepping up to eliminate fees and boost transportation services. It is an acknowledgement that parents should not be financially responsible for transportation and addresses some of the inequities faced by families living in suburban and rural areas.”
Richard Powell, board vice chair, Peace River South School District –
“We’re pleased that the minister was able to change the way transportation is funded because it means we can operate our bus systems more efficiently and in ways that better support rural students in the public school system.”
Ida Campbell, board chair, Peace River North School District –
“We’ve been working on this issue for a long time and this is great news for parents. Transportation is vitally important in a rural area like ours and we are excited to be able to eliminate fees for busing thanks to this money from the provincial government.”
- The Student Transportation Fund builds on government’s recent investments to further strengthen B.C.’s education system and support student learning, including:
- $25 million of administrative savings returned to school districts to invest in students;
- $2 million Rural Education Enhancement Fund to help keep schools open;
- $28 million to ensure enrolment increases and labour settlements are covered; and,
- $6 million to train teachers on coding and new curriculum and to buy computers.
A backgrounder follows.