On August 10, the provincial government announced that it was putting $14.7 million into a "student transportation fund" to ease the burden on parents caused by districts cancelling school bus services and/or charging fees for school bus service. This sounds great until you remember that districts used to provide these services routinely without charging fees, and that school bus service is one of the "non-instructional" items that boards have been forced to cut in order to balance budgets while attempting to keep cuts out of the classroom. (Here is a memo from the BC School Trustees' Association listing budget cuts; buses are at the top of the list.).
In fact, the provincial government encouraged boards to cut school bus services or charge fees for busing in order to meet the requirement for $54 million in "administrative savings" in their 2015 and 2016 budgets. Here is a document sent by the Ministry to the boards, outlining the guidelines for making the required cuts. One of the suggested "savings" is "transportation reduction (rationalization of routes) or user fees."
So the government demanded that boards make $29 million in cuts in 2015 and $25 million in cuts in 2016; it outlined areas that could be cut to meet these quotas and included busing in that list. In June 2016, it returned $25 million of these "administrative savings" to the districts; the remaining $29 million has not been returned... until now.
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