Tuesday March 9, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Tonight the Sooke School District 62 (SD62) board approved a charge of a $25 “safety fee” for families with children using the bus transportation system in 2021-2022, and also a $100 late registration fee.
SD62 Vice-Chair Bob Beckett says the $100 fee (applicable after September 1) is “expensive” but parents expressing “financial hardship” can have the fee reconsidered.
Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull says the safety fee is to help cover the costs of real-time tracking of students on the buses and developing more safe and active routes to school.
The fees were discussed first in more detail at the Resources Committee Meeting on March 3, with a tight summary provided to the board tonight before they voted their approval.
A few years ago the SD62 board received a grant of $358,000 in order to provide bus transportation at no charge to families with children using the bus system.
SD62 has a high percentage of student bus riders — about 4,000 were registered for this current year — given there are some long-distance rural areas in the district from which students travel to get to the schools that are centralized in the town of Sooke and cities of Langford and Colwood.
SD62 is one of the fastest-growing school districts in BC. SD62 provides public education to families who live in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, East Sooke, Juan de Fuca (west of Sooke) out to Port Renfrew, and parts of View Royal.
Generally speaking, education under the BC School Act is expected to be provided free of user-fees (using taxpayer dollars) in BC.
Tonight the SD62 board also approved Academy fees for 2021-2022, many of which are higher than in previous years. Academies are for specialized learning and training in various sports as well as dance, performing arts, and equestrian skills.
Tonight’s board meeting was attended by the full board, with some in the room (Chair Ravi Parmar, Vice-Chair Bob Beckett, Trustee Wendy Hobbs) and the others participating remotely (Bob Phillips, Dianna Seaton, Margot Swinburnson, and Allison Watson).