Transportation System Changes for 2019-2020
Necessary changes are being made to Parkland School Division’s Regional Transportation System that will affect some students and families more than others.
These adjustments will allow our existing transportation system to better adapt to the current funding model for bus transportation in the province given the addition of the two new schools Parkland School Division so desperately needed in Spruce Grove.
In the province of Alberta, transportation funding for students is distributed to school boards using formulas that take many things into consideration. There’s a lot of math involved, but the most important number to remember is 2.4 km. If you live more than 2.4 kilometres away from and attend your designated school, the school division will receive grant funding from the province to operate our Transportation Services system (i.e. your student is eligible for funding).
If you live less than 2.4 kilometres away from your designated school, NO money flows from the Government of Alberta to the school division to cover the transportation of your child (i.e. your child is ineligible for funding).
Prior to the 2016 opening of Prescott Learning Centre and the 2018 opening of Copperhaven School, more students lived further away from their designated schools, and this meant Parkland School Division received more money to operate the Regional Transportation System. This is no longer the case. With service levels remaining consistent despite more students riding the bus and less money to operate the system, Parkland School Division’s Transportation system has had to operate at a deficit for the past number of years. Losses are mounting and money cannot keep being taken from the classroom to sustain the transportation system. Expecting a shortfall of around $1 million for 2019-2020, the Board of Trustees directed Parkland School Division’s administration to adhere to the Division’s Enduring Priority of Resource Stewardship and essentially fix the problem.
On March 5th, the Board of Trustees approved an increase to the Fee Schedule for 2019-2020, which was then amended on June 25, 2019 at their Special Board Meeting. The new fee of $350/year for every ineligible rider in Grades 1-12 still does not match the actual cost incurred to transport these students, since the government rules limit how much school boards can increase fees for riders who are ineligible for grant funding, and any fee increases are subject to Ministerial Approval. In actuality, it costs approximately $800 to transport a student living in an urban setting, and just shy of $1,200 to transport a student attending a rural school. Because of this, the Board’s fee increase will only help recover the shortfall by about $100,000.
Bus Arrival/Departure Time Review
Another way the Board plans to recover the annual expected $1 million deficit is to simplify the complexities in the Regional Transportation System. Reducing the amount of buses in the fleet, redrawing routes and having some buses make double runs will create almost $800,000 in savings each year.
Double-running buses will operate as follows:
A bus drives through a few urban neighbourhoods, picking up a full load of students.
The bus delivers the students to a transfer site, where they each board one of several other buses to make the trip to their schools.
The original bus returns to another set of neighbourhoods to collect another load of students.
The bus delivers the second group of students directly to their designated school without stopping at a transfer site.
When this new system comes into effect in September 2019, it’s anticipated that approximately 700 students will be transported to school each day without having to stop at one of Parkland School Division’s transfer sites. As a result, there will be fewer buses on roads and reduced congestion around schools while parents are picking up or dropping off their students. Double-running buses will also help fulfill Transportation Services’ preference to reduce ride times for bus students when possible.
New Bell Schedules
In order to accommodate these changes to the Regional Transportation System, a number of schools will have to adjust their bell schedules. Approximately half of Parkland School Division schools in the Regional Transportation System will experience no change to their schedules, while some will see schedules shift by as much as 40 minutes. In most cases, school schedules will only shift earlier or later by 5 or 10 minutes.
We acknowledge that some of these changes will affect daily routines for many PSD families. Parents can assist their children by helping them understand why changes happen and modeling a positive approach to change. Demonstrating such behaviour encourages a child's own ability to be resilient and resourceful.
Schools may or may not have to adjust their bell times depending on the shift being made to bus arrival and departure times. Information will be shared by the schools for any changes that are necessary. Once available, those will be reflected on schools' Bell Schedule pages.
For more information contact: