A petition has been launched by concerned parents over the Vernon School District’s plan to increase bus ridership fees from $25 to $200 or, in some cases, $300. (Black Press file photo)

Concerned parents launch petition opposing Okanagan school district bus fee hike

Families in Vernon School District could go from paying $25 to $200 or, in some cases, $300

Parents concerned over the Vernon School District’s school bus fee increase for 2021-22 have started a petition opposing the move.

More than 300 signatures toward a goal of 500 had been received on the petition as of 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21.

The Vernon School District announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that kids who currently ride the bus for $25 would see their family charged $200 for 2021-22, and, in some cases, $300.

“Despite possible subsidies for this new fee, it is still beyond comprehension that such a substantial increase would be necessary,” said Vernon School District parent Krystal Aarcand, who is organizing the petition.

One parent called the news “insane,” and the proposed hikes have drawn plenty of conversation on social media platforms.

French immersion students, and those in other programs of choice, will pay even more: $300.

The fee for courtesy riders within their school catchment will remain the same at $200. While those taking the bus to a school outside of their catchment area will pay $300.

“Should the rider need a second route, the same fee will apply for the second route,” reads the transportation rider fee schedule, which was approved Feb. 17. “Should the rider’s second address be located on the same route as the first address, only one rider fee will apply.”

Students who only take the bus one way will get a 50 per cent discount on the rider fee. But students who only ride the bus for one semester will not.

There are some discounts for those with more than two children. Family ridership fees are reduced by 50 per cent for the third child. The fourth and any additional children will only be charged $25 each.

The school district said the increased fees are needed to cover expenses, including six new routes required to implement eligible ridership from programs of choice at a cost of $50,000 per route. The increase in fees would bring in an estimated extra $300,000 if the same number of students continue to ride the bus.

The District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) had urged the school board to implement a lower fee.

“We believe that a fee range between $110-150 would be more than sufficient to cover the initially estimated shortfalls to align with the transportation policy,” DPAC transportation task force said in a letter to the board.

The petition said the proposed hike would be especially devastating for rural families.

“Considering we are already contributing to school tax and have a right to access education, this is completely unfair to rural families especially in an economically depressed area, that has been further economically affected during COVID times,” said Arcand.

The petition calls for Vernon School Board trustees with mandates to Lumby and the Regional District of Okanagan to review the fee hike and help change the increase and/or eliminate ridership fees in the school district.

READ MORE: Vernon school bus fees jump to $200

READ MORE: QUIZ: How much do you know about literacy and the freedom to read?



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

EducationSchoolsTransportation

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

Just Posted

The Okanagan’s first virtual wedding fair will be held Saturday, March 27. {Paul Rodgers photo)
Okanagan to host virtual wedding fair

Okanagan wine country is No. 1 destination for weddings - online event set for March 27

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Princeton has seen a 22 per cent drop in drug overdose fatalities in 2020. (File photo)
While B.C. overdose deaths soar, Princeton made a recovery in 2020

Between 2018 and 2020, eight Princeton residents died of suspected overdose.

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Options available for medical care

Telephone and online methods allow people to contact doctors

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

FILE  - In this Friday, Jan 1, 2021 file photo, a lorry driver's documents are scanned on a phone as he passes a checkpoint for the train through the Eurotunnel link with Europe in Folkestone, England. One month after Britain made a New Year split from the European Union's economic embrace, businesses that once traded freely are getting used to frustrating checks, delays and red tape. Meat exporters say shipments have rotted in trucks awaiting European health checks. Scottish fishermen have protested at Parliament over the catch they can no longer sell to the continent because of byzantine new paperwork. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FINLAYSON: Government should focus on strengthening B.C.’s leading export industries

To revive the economy, this piece in the strategy is integral, writes Jock Finlayson

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

(Contributed)
Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

Most Read