Dead end: No move to merge bus routes

The Glengarry News - - News -

School bus routes in Eastern On­tario are not about to merge any time soon, de­spite grow­ing mo­men­tum to blend the sys­tems which some have de­nounced as be­ing waste­ful.

Le Con­seil sco­laire de dis­trict catholique de l'Est on­tarien does not en­vis­age chang­ing the cur­rent model of de­liv­er­ing trans­porta­tion through the Con­sor­tium de trans­port sco­laire de l’Est, says Martin Lav­i­gne, busi­ness su­per­in­ten­dent and trea­surer with the CSDCEO.

The French-lan­guage sep­a­rate school board and the Con­seil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’On­tario run the con­sor­tium that trans­ports about 10,000 pupils.

In re­cent weeks, there have been calls for the French-lan­guage sys­tem to amal­ga­mate with Stu­dents Trans­porta­tion of Eastern On­tario, which serves about 42,000 stu­dents at­tend­ing schools ad­min­is­tered by the Up­per Canada Dis­trict School Board and the Catholic Dis­trict School Board of Eastern On­tario.

Stor­mont- Dun­das- Glen­garry War­den and North Glen­garry Mayor Jamie MacDon­ald ar­gues that tax­pay­ers can­not af­ford du­pli­ca­tion of ser­vices.

“We have two dif­fer­ent school buses go­ing up and down the same road. Our kids can’t ride on the same bus but they can play on the same hockey team,” he has said. “We have two dif­fer­ent en­ti­ties. There’s got to be a bet­ter sys­tem.”

STEO’s chair­man John McAl­lis­ter re­cently com­mented: “We’re open to part­ner­ships with any­body, in­clud­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and other school boards. Re­sources are more lim­ited now.”

At the Ru­ral On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence, a del­e­ga­tion from SDG cau­tioned that, “The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem as we know it to­day, will not be sus­tain­able in the fu­ture.”

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives urged the prov­ince and lo­cal school boards to do more to sup­port stu­dents and schools in ru­ral ar­eas. “The ex­ist­ing poli­cies do not put the needs of stu­dents first. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment's ‘big­ger is bet­ter’ fo­cus has had a se­ri­ous neg­a­tive im­pact on our stu­dents. The ele­phant in the room re­mains the fact that there are too many pub­licly funded school boards in On­tario. While that is not the topic of con­ver­sa­tion for to­day, we im­plore the gov­ern­ment to be­gin a process to tackle this is­sue,” said Mr. MacDon­ald.

SEP­A­RATE LINES: There is no de­sire on the part of the French-lan­guage sep­a­rate school board to en­ter­tain school bus line merger talks.

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