School bus.

School bus.

Plan for transportation funding concerns some Cinnabar-area parents

NANAIMO – Parents of Cinnabar Valley students are dismayed at how Nanaimo school district is proposing to spend potential money.

Parents of Cinnabar Valley students are dismayed at how Nanaimo school district is proposing to spend potential Ministry of Education money.

The district has until Sept. 30 to apply for up to $244,630 of Student Transportation Fund money and a recommendation would see $224,000 go toward assisting courtesy riders that live within a school’s catchment area, but outside walking distance.

Bus service from Cinnabar to John Barsby Secondary was discontinued this year with the re-opening of Cedar Community Secondary – the catchment which Cinnabar students are assigned to – but parents want to see the route maintained.

Some parents say children have been uprooted a lot the last few years, with the original Cedar closure, subsequent relocation to Barsby and now back to Cedar.

Cedar secondary was closed in June 2014 by a previous board with Barsby and Ladysmith Secondary Schools were designated catchment. Eventually busing was provided to Ladysmith.

Jamie Leckenby, Cinnabar parent with children at Barsby, said there is precedent for grandfathering busing to John Barsby.

“This is the third time they’ve changed the catchment for Cinnabar Valley kids and we just don’t understand why were taking the brunt of it in the district,” said Leckenby.

Tiffany Bowen, another Cinnabar parent with a child at Barsby, said the real concern for students in the transition is some based their graduation program plans on Barsby offerings.

“The current student enrolment at Cedar Secondary is not able to support the course diversity that Barsby is able to offer, so I feel that parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place between transportation versus academic offerings,” said Bowen.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said busing to Ladysmith was only provided for one year and pointed to a transportation review the district is currently conducting.

“Forty eight per-cent of our routes are outside of policy,” said Rae.

“It is one of the few places that we can make savings and look for efficiencies and despite what some think, this isn’t about Cedar. This is about what’s best for the whole district and trying to find efficiencies.”

Rae said the district couldn’t raise taxes like the city and has to deal with the money it has.

Trustees will vote on the proposal at its regular meeting on Wednesday (Sept. 28).