News Views: School bus stop

In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the school board to trying to find $1.7 million in savings.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district, forced by the provincial government to find savings and balance its budget,  may eliminate school buses.

To help ensure students still get to school, it has  asked TransLink to considering adding bus routes in rural areas. But good luck.

Education funding to school districts was reduced as part of the provincial government’s recent budget. The education ministry has ordered $25 million in cuts this year, and $29 million next year, to be made in administrative savings.

School district across the province are now scrambling to find those.

In Vancouver, up to 100 cuts to jobs are being considered.

In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the school board to trying to find $1.7 million in savings. Eliminating school buses would cover almost half of that, and minimize other potential cuts to classrooms or staffing.

Local trustees have already cut $8 million and 70 positions in their last two budgets. They say there isn’t much more to cut before the effects really start to hurt. Local unions have already said there is nowhere left to cut in the major employee groups.

Cutting school buses, in rural areas – not for handicapped children – wouldn’t be pain-free. But the buses are a luxury we can no longer afford.

It is unrealistic today to think that a family can live in a rural area and not be able to get around without a vehicle or public transit, whether to get groceries or go to work.

It is no longer 1876, when James Sinclair, the first teacher at the first school in Maple Ridge, rowed across the Fraser River and back to fill his classroom with enough students to warrant a pay cheque.

It is up to parents to ensure their children get to school. And if not, there are other options, such as cyber school. That is the reality today, and trustees know it.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News