Dead end: No move to merge bus routes
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.