Ticket to ride
The Central Okanagan School District has agreed on consistency for its user fees for bus students. All students will be charged $200 annually to ride the bus to and from school, effective Sept. 1.
In the past, there was a twotier system. Those living more than 4.6 kilometre away from the school rode free, everyone else paid $250 annually.
As board chairwoman Moyra Baxter of Peachland observed, “if you live on the side of a mountain” it’s more difficult to walk to school than those who have paved sidewalks.
There’s a sliding scale for families with more than one child and families who can’t afford the user fee may quietly request a hardship case.
This journalist was somewhat taken aback because I’d never heard of having to pay to send your kids to school.
Superintendent Kevin Kaardal said “most boards” charge for the service. Among those who don’t are neighbouring Okanagan Skaha, the Vernon School District, and Okanagan Similkameen.
The $200 covers only part of the expense and with the user fee and government funding, Baxter said the board expects to use the surplus to offer other routes and better service.
Baxter also notes that parents appreciate the service more when they have to pay a fee.
It still doesn’t pass the smell test.
We all can’t live in an urban area. Rural people grow our food. It’s penalizing those who don’t live within walking distance of a school.
If other boards can find the money for busing (especially Oliver/Osoyoos with a large percentage of students needing the service), why can’t a large board like Central Okanagan?
User-pay is often a fair system.
Central Okanagan has charged for busing since 2011 and Baxter said most people support the user fee.
But, could this be the start of downloading fees onto the backs of parents? If nobody raises a stink, what could be coming next?