Sooke School District considers introducing school bus fees

Sooke School District considers introducing school bus fees
Nicholas Pescod
A North Saanich school bus is pictured in this file photo.

The Sooke School District (SD62) is looking at introducing a new school bus fee to help offset rising transportation costs.

In a statement Friday, the school district said it currently allocates $3.94 million into transportation funding each year.

The only fee currently charged to families for school bus services in the school district is a $25 safety fee.

Without increasing fees, the school district says it may be taking away resources from the classroom.

“The board of education is faced with the incredibly difficult task of either reallocating more funds from the classroom to sustain transportation services or implementing a transportation fee model to safeguard classroom funding,” said the school district.

At a public board meeting on Feb. 27, the SD62 board of education voted to explore a “fee-based model” for transportation services starting in the 2024/2025 school year.

The school district notes that it’s not the first time SD62 has implemented a bus fee, and that the BC School Act does not require school districts to provide free bus services.

“This measure aims to ensure that essential resources remain within classrooms, while still providing families with access to transportation services, albeit at a reasonable cost,” said SD62.

Moving forward, the school district says its staff will be working on different fee models and that those will be presented to the board of education before the next school year begins.

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The school district says that families should still register for transportation services as usual, and that they can opt out at a later date if fees are introduced.

“Those experiencing financial hardship will also have options,” said the school district.

SD62 includes schools in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, as well as up to Port Renfrew.

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