Parents getting partial rebate for students forced to ride city transit
Some CBE students who lost yellow school bus service will see their fee to ride Calgary Transit to class halved by a provincial subsidy.
The parents of 1,300 students who are attending five alternative schools or live more than 2.4 kilo- metres from their school will be reimbursed up to $365 and will pay $335 to ride Calgary Transit buses, the same fee charged to those who ride the yellow buses.
It follows considerable public outcry from parents whose transportation options were disrupted and fears younger children would be riding numerous buses to school.
But a student advocate who’s running for Calgary Board of Education trustee in Wards 6-7 said the process has been selective and doesn’t resolve the plight of many families.
“It doesn’t address the kids who had to be pulled out of their home schools, who couldn’t make their transit work,” said Lisa Davis, founder of the group Kids Come First.
“This is a Band-Aid solution to a problem the minister created himself when he failed to consult with the school board.”
Davis was referring to the provincial government’s Bill 1, which is meant to eliminate busing transportation fees for students who attend designated schools or who live 2.4 kilometres from that school. But those attending alternative schools were told they will have to pay the $335, and even a $700 charge, with hundreds of students being forced off school buses and onto Calgary Transit.
Davis said some of the 2,000 students who were told last spring they would be shifted from yellow to city buses this school year due to the legislation are being left out of the rebate.
“(Education Minister David) Eggen decides which students in Calgary get bus service,” she said.
Alberta Education instructed the CBE to focus the rebate on the 1,300 students in Grades 6-9 attending five alternative program schools, said board spokeswoman Joanne Anderson.
“These were schools that were identified for that ... it’s the direction from the minister,” she said.
“It’s part of an evaluation we do every year.”
She said the CBE planned to move 1,500 students to Calgary Transit this year, “so there are an additional 200 or so students from other communities that have transitioned.”
It’s uncertain if those 200 students would qualify for a rebate, added Anderson.
The CBE said that orientation sessions for the new transit arrangements were held this month and in August, dealing with issues such as trip planning, safety and fares.
It’s not certain if the rebate program will return for the 2018-19 school year, she said.
A spokesperson for Alberta Education wasn’t able to comment.
This is a Band-Aid solution to a problem the minister created himself when he failed to consult with the school board.
Education Minister David Eggen has come under fire from parents over Bill 1. “Eggen decides which students in Calgary get bus service,” says Lisa Davis, founder of the group Kids Come First.