Feedback sought on Nanaimo school district busing policy

NANAIMO – Parents in Nanaimo district have until Feb. 24 to provide feedback on transportation.

Parents have about three weeks to offer their feedback on Nanaimo school district’s transportation policy proposal.

The policy was in need of revision as it has sections not updated since 1986. School trustees voted to enter 30-day consultation period last Wednesday.

Under the policy, kindergarten to Grade 3 students that reside more than four kilometres away from their catchment school will be eligible for busing. Grades 4 to 12 students living more than 4.8 kilometres from the catchment school will also be eligible.

Students not attending their catchment school could apply for a seat that isn’t filled as a courtesy rider. If permission is granted, it will only be for the school year. Bus riders will receive a ZPass, which will provide the district with information on ridership and to manage routes. Students whose usage is less than 50 per cent risk losing their seat.

The district intends to promote cycling, walking and other “human-powered transportation,” and will partner with various groups, including Regional District of Nanaimo, City of Nanaimo and Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition, on initiatives.

The policy says the district will do its best to ensure students don’t have to walk in excess of 3.2 kilometers along an established route to get to their stop. The district said it recognizes there may be hazardous walking conditions, but students and parents would be “expected to assess the pedestrian conditions that affect them and take proper measures to ensure student safety.”

District staff will use a form when determining hazard and safety challenges on potential or current routes. The information will be used for evaluating feasibility and continuation of bus routes and concerns that arise about bus and safe walk routes.

Charlene McKay, district parent advisory council president, said the policy provides a good opportunity for parents to raise concerns.

“It’s important that we identify the safety hazards and make sure that student safety to and from school is important, which I think the hazard form is going to do,” said McKay. “This new procedure gives a lot more weight to hazards than we’ve ever looked at in the past.”

To provide feedback, please e-mail communications@sd68.bc.ca. Deadline to submit information is Feb. 24.