Abbotsford School District struggles with cost of bus services with loss of funding

District ran a deficit of nearly $500,000 in 2018/2019 school year; new provincial funding uncertain

The Abbotsford School District is struggling to keep up with the cost of its bus service amid increasing demand and loss of funding from the province.

After running a deficit of just under $500,000 for the 2018/2019 school year, the district will be facing some tough choices.

“We continue to spend money for transportation services beyond the resources available, which negatively impacts the district’s budget and takes money away from educational services,” said secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk. “If we didn’t have that loss in transportation, that money would be reinvested.”

At a transportation information meeting on Tuesday, Velestuk addressed a group of over 60 parents and guardians about some key issues the district is facing. Uncertain provincial funding, recruiting and retaining bus drivers, increasing demand and an overextended budget top the list.

The Ministry of Transportation began cutting grants for transportation services in 2012/2013 after nearly a decade of steady funding.

The school district is also wary of a new provincial funding model which may take effect as early as next year. The new model doesn’t appear to have any funding allocated to individual districts for transportation, according to Velestuk.

“[It’s unknown] what funding will look like in that new model and how it will support districts providing student transportation, because [bus services are] not even ministry-mandated. It’s totally optional,” Velestuk said.

Out of the district’s 20,000 students, 2,961 currently take the bus to 41 different routes.

To be eligible for free bus services now, students must live outside of the walk limit of 3.2 kilometres for elementary schools, four kilometres for middle and high schools, have special needs or live near dangerous road crossings. Others are subject to fees.

As part of a recently announced transportation review for the 2019/20 year, an online exchange forum has been launched to facilitate comments, feedback and suggestions from parents to help the district rank the importance of the different issues. The forum will be open until Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.

“We encourage our families, especially those who utilize a school bus to get to and from school, to take some time to provide comments in our online exchange,” said Stan Petersen, chair of the school board.

So far close to 800 parents have contributed to the review.

Parents wishing to contribute can head to: http://bit.ly/ABBY-Transportation-Review.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Abbotsford’s UFV gym now without a sponsor

Partnership with Envision Financial ends, school seeking new organizations to partner with

Road washout affecting section of Highway No. 3 near Manning Park

Road maintenance crews are on the scene, with an almost two kilometre long stretch impacted

CBC Bearcats hire Rebecca Garner as women’s volleyball head coach

Abbotsford-based team hires former Bearcat, Briercrest star to lead program

Children’s author hopes public can grant father’s wish to see work in Abbotsford library

Dawn Doig’s father recently died from COVID-19 after staying at Worthington Pavilion

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

Most Read