'We have no option': Edmonton public school bus fees to increase
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) has voted to implement bus fees for some students in the 2019/2020 school year.
The change is set to affect many families who previously did not pay fees for yellow bus use and families that received ETS pass subsidies.
According to a news release from EPSB, the increases are estimated to look as follows:
|Yellow bus, 2.4 km or more||ETS bus, Grades 7-12|
Kindergarten students have traditionally not been charged transportation fees by EPSB, but those are changing as well:
|2.4 km or more||Bilingual/Immersion program||Other alternative programs|
Special education students who receive curb service will continue to not pay fees. Students who live less than 2.4 kilometres from their school will not see an increase in fees.
“We have no option but to make these difficult decisions,” said Trisha Estabrooks, EPSB board chair in a statement. “We pay more for transportation services than we collect in user fees and now we have fewer provincial dollars to help cover costs, based on the October 24 provincial budget.”
EPSB says the loss of the School Fee Reduction grant in the provincial budget resulted in $5.3 million less in transportation funds.
“Our Division was subsidizing shortfalls in funding with our surplus funds, but now that’s depleted to ensure we’re supporting classrooms; we have no choice but to pass this fee onto parents,” says Estabrooks.
The fees will go into place on Feb. 1, 2020.
“We are doing our best to give families some lead time on what’s coming, but we have been put into this position by the provincial government,” said board member Bridget Stirling. ”I will support this motion but I won’t do it happily.”
EPSB says even with the added fees it still faces a deficit in its transportation budget and that fees could increase again in the future.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Bill Fortier