Students and parents in the Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows school district could soon have access to improved school transportation services thanks to up to $185,990 in provincial funding being made available announced local MLAs Marc Dalton and Doug Bing.
The MLAs are both encouraging the district to apply for the funding available under the provincial governments new $14.7 million School Transportation Fund.
Funding will continue on an ongoing basis in future years.
“I have been listening to the concerns of parents and I believe that this option is a much better alternative than previous funding models,” said Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton. “This is good news for families dependent on busing in our community and I will be encouraging the district to seriously consider the offer by the Province.”
The handful of districts that currently charge families a transportation fee for a student’s local or catchment area school must eliminate those fees to be eligible to access the funding under the program. All districts need to use the funding for transportation services to be eligible.
“This funding is specifically earmarked for transportation,” said Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing. “It is also flexible and gives our school board more room to plan and offer safe and reliable bus service.”
Funding can also be used in a variety of ways:
· improving service by adding new or amended routes;
· improving access to local transit services;
· providing accessible services for students with disabilities;
· reducing ride times;
· boosting student safety by relocating bus stops and improving bus supervision; and,
· funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district reinstated previous school bus fees last week.
To be eligible for funding, districts must submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by Sept. 30 outlining how they will use the funding to boost transportation services for students and families. Districts will hear back shortly after they submit their applications on how much funding they will receive.
The amount of funding a district is eligible for is based on a formula tied to the Ministry of Education’s student location factor, which is used to determine the rural makeup of a school district. Districts will also be required to report back on the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.
As a result of B.C.’s strong economic growth and fiscal discipline, government is able to make key investments like the School Transportation Fund to improve the lives of British Columbians.