By Tim Kalinowski
One of the biggest drains on the Prairie Rose School Division’s budget over the last few years has been the transportation costs associated with bussing students into schools from a large, spread-out, mostly rural region. The Prairie Rose School Division board had an extended discussion on the issue during last Tuesday’s special board meeting held in Dunmore.
The division currently contracts out bus services, but Superintendent Brian Andjelic said rising costs, and the loss of fuel subsidies and heightened safety regulations on contractors, may lead the division to rethink some aspects of its transportation plan in the future.
“The way that it’s going this board may have to eventually look at some of its own busses and our most rural areas,” said Andjelic. “That’s a strategy not lost on some school divisions. Some have kind of a hybrid program because they cannot find contractors. Thank goodness we are not in that position yet, and I hope we never are. But don’t be surprised should that happen some day.”
Veteran board trustee Arnold Frank acknowledged the discussion about rising transportation costs at school divisions across Alberta. He predicted provincial boards would eventually have to come together in a common front to lobby the government for more dollars.
“Every time we have a provincial meeting they have a special session just to discuss how to cope with the transportation costs. And this never used to be an issue. It has been generating more and more discussion with fewer ideas how to pay for it,” he said.
In 2015/2016 the Prairie Rose School Division will pay a projected $5,403,503 for transportation.