By J.W. Schnarr
A plan that would have seen fees paid by parents of out of area students for bussing appears to be dead in the water.
During their regular meeting on Feb. 24, The Horizon School Division board of trustees decided to put the brakes on a contentious transportation bylaw following the results of an open house last month.
“The board was quite pleased in terms of feedback from the parents,” said Wilco Tymensen, school superintendent. “My understanding was that you had close to 300 people coming out and engaging in conversations and areas of concern about not only their students and children attending school, but also the transportation piece, and as well about programming.”
“It appears there are some concerns they have in regards to the policy in its current standing,” he added.
One issue which many parents were seeking answers for involved what they considered an attempt by the board to use the suggested fees as a way to corral students into their designated schools – something Tymensen said was not the intent.
“Based on parent feedback, there are a number of areas they want us to reconsider,” he said. “The fees were one of those items, and as well, there was some feedback from parents that the policy was being used to direct students to different schools, and I think that was not the board’s intent.”
One of the suggestions heard from parents was the idea that schools could draw their designated students involved program enhancement.
“One of the things they would like us to do is explore the idea of enhancing programs and opportunities in schools,” he said. “It’s about meeting the needs of students and their families so that they want to attend those schools.”
Vice Chair Bruce Francis said that with the information gathered at the open house, the board was not ready for a first reading.
“We’re not prepared to look at the first reading at this time,” he said. “I think the transportation fees are definitely out the window.”
“I think they need to know we’re going to take a second look at this business based on those (concerns),” said Ward 5 Trustee Terry Michaelis.
Tymensen asked the board if they were interested in setting a time to revisit the transportation issue. No hard date was set, but it was felt the new school season might be the time to revisit the issue.
“The fact that we’re not ready for a first reading, my recommendation is that we are not able to get further public feedback on a new draft before next September,” Tymensen said.
“I would recommend that we don’t move forward with any change (until then).”