Some Port Clements parents are asking the school board to pay for a school bus run between Port and Tlell so their teenaged children can attend Queen Charlotte Secondary instead of the high school in Masset.
Right now, the bus routes are laid out so that Port high school students can catch the bus north to Masset. Students living in Tlell and communities further south can catch a bus to Queen Charlotte. The only bus service between Port and Tlell is for Tlell children travelling to elementary school in Port.
But parent Chris Bellamy made a presentation to the school board at its meeting last week (Feb. 24), urging the board to consider funding a bus run from Port which would connect with the bus travelling to Queen Charlotte Secondary.
Mr. Bellamy and other Port parents have privately hired a school bus which brings six students from Port to Tlell every weekday morning, so they can attend Queen Charlotte Secondary, and home again in the afternoon. This is costing $1,000 a month, or $10,000 for the school year.
“It’s a testimony to the school in Charlotte that we continue to do this,” said Dale Lore, one of the parents who shares the bus cost.
Mr. Bellamy said he has spoken to several Port families who would like to send their children to the Queen Charlotte school, but can’t afford the bus cost. If the school board paid for the bus, many more students would take the opportunity to switch schools, he said.
Principal Melissa Yurkowski told the board that about 35 Port students attend G.M. Dawson, the high school in Masset, as do a couple of students from Tlell.
Mr. Bellamy told the board that ideally, parents would like the school district to cover the cost of the extra bus route, but there are other options. These include the district paying part of the bus cost, or paying the parents mileage for the distance between their home and the bus stop in Tlell. (Several other parents in the district receive mileage for driving their students to school or the nearest bus stop, but right now the Port parents don’t qualify because their children could catch the bus to G.M. Dawson.)
If the parents don’t get some kind of assistance, he said, they may end up taking their children out of school in this district. Many Port families have moved away from the islands in the past once their children reached high school age, Mr. Bellamy said.
“We want to stay here and we want our children to get the best education possible,” he told the board.
School board chair Andreas Uttendorfer thanked Mr. Bellamy for his presentation and said the board will get back to him with an answer.
“We certainly see your point. We are going to have to look into the options,” he said. “We’ll deal with this as quickly as we can.”
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