Some parents with kids in the Edmonton Public School District will be paying higher school bus fees starting Feb. 1.
The changes include a new yellow bus fee of $260 annually for students in Kindergarten to Grade 6, and of $515 annually for students in grades 7 to 12.
Fees for students riding Edmonton Transit Service buses to their designated schools will also rise from $190 annually to $515 annually.
Trustees said it was a hard decision but they’ve been put in a difficult position. Tuesday afternoon’s vote was unanimous.
The United Conservative government’s provincial budget eliminated the School Fee Reduction grant. The Edmonton Public School Board report said the district had $5.3 million less available for student transportation.
Trustees explained school bus fee hikes were considered partly because the EPSB does not want to make cuts to classrooms mid-school year in order to address the post-budget funding shortfall.
“We have no option but to make these difficult decisions,” Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks said.
“We pay more for transportation services than we collect in user fees and now we have fewer provincial dollars to help cover costs, based on the Oct. 24 provincial budget.
“Our division was subsidizing shortfalls in funding with our surplus funds, but now that’s depleted. To ensure we’re supporting classrooms, we have no choice but to pass this fee onto parents,” she said.
Special needs busing will not be subject to school bus fees.
Schools will be contacting affected families in January.
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