Off the buses
Many more grade 7 and 8 pupils attending area English-language schools will no longer be able to take the bus when classes resume in the fall.
As part of an austerity program, walk zones are being extended by Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, the consortium that oversees bussing for the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB).
Effective September, the maximum walking distance for grade 7 and 8 students will be lengthened from 1.6 kilometres to 2 kilometres, the same distance that now applies to grades 9 through 12.
Unless they have a valid medical reason, students living within the walk zones cannot board a bus.
Services are being curbed as the STEO tries to counter the rising cost of providing what is viewed as an essential service.
“STEO and the school boards are facing significant and unprecedented cost increases to student transportation at 2018 and beyond, which will require an analysis of existing practices and a strategic and efficient approach to student transportation services,” reads a report presented to the UCDSB. “Pursuing these steps will be important for considering how to sustain a reasonable level of transportation services for our students for the future and to ensure that the school boards who use STEO’s services can continue to do so with full regard to affordability.”
STEO operates approximately 750 vehicles that transport approximately 32,000 students, including about 22,000 of the 27,000 enrolled in UCDSB schools.
Earlier this year, the STEO board of directors “approved a number of efficiency measures on a go-forward basis.”
In addition to the alignment of walk distance for grades 7 and 8 to that of grades 9 through 12, the new policy removes “courtesy riders” from the list of those who are exempt from the rules. A “courtesy rider” is a student who lives within a walk zone but can board a bus if a seat is available. and reviewed annually.”