School District No. 74 has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education regarding transportation in the district, to try to take advantage of $366,000 offered by the ministry to address transportation needs. The proposal focuses on additional bus runs to support after school and extra-curricular activities.
“There’s currently no bus service for students staying late for these activities,” says SD 74 board of education co-chair Carmen Ranta. “This would create better opportunities for students who use the bus to take part in them.
“One of the challenges for rural communities is transportation, which can restrict student activities if there is no city bus, or no parents at home to drive them, or no car.” Until now, she notes, the cost of extra-curricular buses has been “prohibitive” for the district.
The transportation funding from the ministry was largely aimed at districts which have had to curtail bus routes, or charge families whose students rely on a school bus. Ranta has noted that neither situation applies in SD 74, which has never charged for students to ride the school bus.
“We don’t charge for busing, as we’ve done a lot of research and made our busing as efficient as possible,” she said in August. “And our budget is not pinched as much as some others, so we can sustain our busing. Charging would be a hardship for many families in our district. And I’ve heard loud and clear from other districts that they hate having to charge to retain transportation service.
“After school activity buses are something the board feels would be valuable to our students. It’s been a challenge for us. If the proposal is successful, we will see good things.” The transport would be for students taking part in any after school activity, not just sports. “I’m really excited about this funding, which was unexpected.”
Another announcement from the ministry, in September, stated that boards of education would need to include explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies. Ranta says that small changes to existing SD 74 policy will be coming to the next board meeting, to ensure the district is in compliance.
SD 74 already has in place policy 8.70 Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity, as well as policy 5.120 Student Bullying. A slight change will be needed to policy 4.950 Code of Conduct, which will now articulate sex, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
“We have pretty current policies in all these areas,” says Ranta. “For school districts without these policies it is a big deal, but we’ve already been there.”