Battle to get to school
Forestland Wheelers still pedalling Rural families are battling with the town’s current school bus system. Petrice Tarrant reports.
A Tokoroa farming couple are relieved they will not have to sell up and move to town in order to keep their daughter in high school.
But no thanks to the Ministry of Education.
Glen and Janine Limmer have been driving 80 kilometres a day for the past two months to ensure their child gets an education – as has Lisa Sharp.
Their children attend Forest View High School, located about 20 km from their homes, yet there is no available bus route.
With calving season looming they were desperate for another solution.
Relief has come to both neighbours following news their teenagers were allowed to travel on another school’s bus.
The Limmers relocated to a new subdivision off Mossop Rd two years ago completely unaware that there was no school bus run for high school students in that area.
Glen said they discussed the problem late last year with Multiserve, the company contracted out to do the bus runs, and were told they only needed three students to set up a new route.
‘‘We were certainly led to believe that it wouldn’t be an issue.’’
As of Thursday they were still forking out $100 a week for travel costs.
Meanwhile, not too far down the road, a family was been granted a travel allowance by the Ministry because their child attended Tokoroa High School, Glen said.
The reason the Limmers were ‘‘ineligible’’ was because their daughter attended Forest View – the second closest school by 2.4 km.
‘‘We don’t care if we have to pay something more towards [the extra distance] . . . the schools are not zoned, I just don’t understand it.’’ But the ministry would not have it. Acting head of education infrastruc- ture Jerome Sheppard said the ministry focused on those families in the ‘‘greatest need’’.
‘‘These are families for whom the nearest school is quite some distance away.’’
‘‘What we can’t do is provide free buses for every child in the country to the school of their choice, even when there is a closer school they could go to. The explosion in demand for school transport would create a substantial bill, leaving less money in the education budget for teaching and learning.’’
He said the funding goes to families who live more than 4.8 km away from their nearest high school–- ignoring the fact that the Limmers are located close to 20 from theirs.
But even if they had received the subsidy, it would only have been useful until calving season kicked in.
Glen said the family was facing the reality that come June, they would no longer be able to live and work in that part of town if they wanted their daughter to stay in school.
Thankfully Amisfield School has come to the rescue, allowing both students to jump on board bus route 2659 which will stop in at Tokoroa High. From there they will catch another bus to Forest View.
Initially both families were told by the ministry that they would only be able to do so if their children were enrolled at Tokoroa High School, Sharp said.
‘‘If we were going to change schools were they [the ministry] going to help pay for our new uniforms?’’
But a unanimous decision by the Amisfield Board of Trustees has overruled this.
The Limmers want to warn parents considering moving up to the Mossop Rd area that when numbers increase, the ministry will only consider creating a new bus run if they are enrolled with Tokoroa High School - even if parents pay for the extra bus ride to Forest View.
Jerome Sheppard Acting head of education
Road blocked: Baffled parents Glen and Janine Limmer have finally worked out how they are going to get their daughter to high school when calving season hits.