School bus con­sul­ta­tion

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Front Page - Ju­dith Ton­ner

A pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion is ex­pected to be­gin this week on chang­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity rules for free school trans­port.

The ex­er­cise – set to be de­cided by coun­cil­lors yes­ter­day – will seek views on in­creas­ing qual­i­fy­ing dis­tances to two miles for pri­mary pupils and three for se­condary school­child­ren.

A pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on con­tro­ver­sial plans to re­duce pupils’ el­i­gi­bil­ity for free school trans­port is ex­pected to get un­der­way on Mon­day.

Coun­cil­lors on North La­nark­shire’s ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee were be­ing asked to ap­prove the start of the ex­er­cise – seek­ing views on pro­pos­als to in­crease the qual­i­fy­ing dis­tances for trans­port pro­vi­sion – as the Ad­ver­tiser went to press yes­ter­day.

Pupils liv­ing more than one mile from their catch­ment pri­mary and two miles from their se­condary school cur­rently re­ceive free trans­port; but the proposal un­der con­sid­er­a­tion is to change to the statu­tory re­quire­ment of two miles from pri­maries and three from high schools.

A re­port for coun­cil­lors projects that 1916 pri­mary and 2670 se­condary pupils would be af­fected, with 723 and 2838 re­spec­tively re­main­ing el­i­gi­ble; and that sav­ings could to­tal nearly £2.4m.

The paper adds: “It should be noted that this proposal does not af­fect the trans­port ar­range­ments for pupils with ad­di­tional sup­port needs.”

North La­nark­shire cur­rently pro­vides free trans­port for more than 8000 pupils cost­ing £5.5 mil­lion.

It is one of seven Scot­tish coun­cils cur­rently op­er­at­ing the“more gen­er­ous ”trans­port cri­te­ria. Re­duc­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity has been re­jected in pre­vi­ous years. Con­sul­ta­tion is due to run un­til Jan­uary 9 with pub­lic meet­ings at St An­drew’s High in Coat­bridge on Tues­day, Novem­ber 21, and at St Mar­garet’s High in Air­drie on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 30, both from 7pm to 9pm.

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