Cutting bus run not popular

  • Apr. 1, 2009 8:00 a.m.

The school board’s decision to cut the bus run between Port and Masset will make life difficult for several families, a parent told trustees at last week’s board meeting at G.M. Dawson Secondary. Cheryl Bennett said the decision means that in September, she’ll have to start driving her two high school-age daughters to Masset and home again, which will take up a large amount of her time and result in additional costs for gas and vehicle wear. The Bennett family is not the only one affected by the decision. Ms Bennett said she is collecting letters from six or seven other families in Port who aren’t happy about having to drive their children to G.M. Dawson, the nearest high school to Port Clements. Ms Bennett said she will probably take her youngest daughter out of Port Clements elementary and have her attend Tahayghen next year because of the driving. At least one other family will do the same, she said, resulting in a loss of students from the Port school. The board did not cancel the bus run that connects Port with the much further away Queen Charlotte Secondary. Ms Bennett said that if money had to be saved, it should have been done by cutting the bus that travels the furthest. “In every other school district, if students need to attend a high school out of town, they are bused to the nearest school,” she said. She also wanted to know why the board made the decision without consulting the students and parents. “That is a big decision to make and announce in the paper without talking to us,” she said. Ms Bennett said her children are happy attending G.M. Dawson and do not want to switch to Queen Charlotte. Also, attending Queen Charlotte would mean three hours a day of travel, compared to one hour a day to travel to Dawson and back. Ms Bennett asked trustees for a response, but acting chair Christine Martynuik said the proper forum for more discussion would be the public budget forums the school board has scheduled. (There will be a lunch time forum in Port April 9, and an evening budget presentation in Port May 12.) The board decided to cut the route after hearing from secretary-treasurer Ken Campbell in January. Mr. Campbell said there are eight students taking the bus right now, but by September there will only be six. The bus costs $73,000 a year. The district will pay parents who drive their children to Dawson transportation assistance of $10 per day, an estimated $10,000 a year, for a total savings of $63,000. Since last year, the board has funded a bus route from Port to Tlell which allows Port students to take the bus to Queen Charlotte Secondary (there is an established bus route between Tlell and Queen Charlotte). This option has proved popular with Port students; Mr. Campbell said 15 Port students are attending Queen Charlotte Secondary this year and he expects approximately the same number next year.