The municipality will be brainstorming possible solutions to the school district’s bus funding shortfall, although Coun. Bruce McDonald warned that doesn’t mean the problem will necessarily be fixed.
Last April the Delta School District eliminated all walk-limit and safety bus routes – maintaining buses only for students with special needs – when faced with a shortfall of $728,000. Trustees blamed the provincial government for slashing its transportation budget, forcing them to make cuts worth $380,000 in each of the next two school years.
At a council meeting last week (Aug. 12), Coun. McDonald said the Delta Council/Delta Board of Education liaison committee, of which he is a member, will be discussing potential alternatives for students.
“We will look at what possible abilities there are . . . but I think people shouldn’t misunderstand that comment that this will be fixed, because we don’t have a solution at present and we don’t know exactly what possibilities do exist in partnership with the community and the school board and with council or whatever.”
The busing issue came up at the meeting when council was asked to look at increasing the municipality’s grant to the school district for its adult school crossing guards by $8,000 (up to $93,420 from $85,421), which would allow for an additional crossing guard each at Holly Elementary in Ladner and Gray Elementary in North Delta.
Coun. Scott Hamilton said the adult school crossing guard program has been supported by the municipality for more than a decade. Although he wasn’t on council at the time, Hamilton recalled, “The debate around the table really centered around the safety of the children who were attending Delta schools, and that’s why Delta then stepped up to fund this program. And the way I see it, the busing situation deal is as much about the safety of our children as the school guard crossing program did at its time.”
The crossing guard grant increase was referred to the Delta Council/Board of Education liaison committee. Coun. Robert Campbell supported the referral, but warned against accepting additional downloading from the provincial government.
“We willingly take them [provincial issues] on because people come to us and talk to us about the safety of our kids and the safety of our community – and we rightly are there protecting them, that safety, and protecting our citizens. However, the provincial government will see this as an easy dumping ground for programs that they can offload and see that the local government will pick up the slack,” Campbell said.
– with files from Adrian MacNair