Funding Issues Forcing School Districts To Raise Costs For Transportation, Early Learning Programs

The Fort McMurray Public and Catholic School Districts are raising the cost for kids to ride the school bus.

Starting in the 2020-21 school year, the price will rise to $41 a month – which equates to roughly $1.20 for every ride.

The two districts have operated a joint student transportation system for the past 25-years.

The FMPSD and FMCSD say the increase is necessary after the municipality raised the monthly fee as part of their plan to raise the average costs of certain services by 17 per cent.

Both districts note the province also had plans to provide grants to offset the lost revenue, however, they scrapped this idea.

The divisions both add they had no intention of allocating classroom funding to cover this cost, set at $40,000.

The transportation system has run on an annual deficit of $1 million.

Meanwhile, the cost for the Early Childhood Development Program at the FMPSD and the Early Learning Program at the FMCSD will increase from $50 to $80 per month.

The Catholic District is also planning to end their Enhanced Kindergarten Program at the end of the school year, while the Public Division will do the same for their KEEP program.

However, the full-day Kindergarten program at Dr. Clark and Father Turcotte will continue as separate entities.

Both districts note the economy is the reason for the changes.

“These were difficult decisions, but due to the economic realities and our effort to be fiscally responsible to our students, staff and parents/guardians, they had to be taken,” said Linda Mywaart, FMPSD Board Chair.

“It has always been a trademark of Fort McMurray Catholic Schools to keep as many dollars as possible in the classroom,” added George McGuigan, FMCSD Superintendent. “These changes reflect our economic times.”

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