New funding opportunities for Mission school bus programs are becoming available.

New funding opportunities for Mission school bus programs are becoming available.

School bus funding available to Mission district

MLAs are encouraging the district to apply for funding available under the BC government's new $14.7 million School Transportation Fund.

  • Aug. 27, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Students and parents in the Mission school district could soon have access to improved school transportation services thanks to up to $188,900 in provincial funding being made available.

Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson and Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton made the announcement about the additional funding last week. It was made in Maple Ridge, where some students have been paying additional fees to use the school bus.

The MLAs are encouraging the district to apply for the funding available under the provincial government’s new $14.7 million School Transportation Fund. Funding will continue on an ongoing basis in future years.

“This represents new funding and provides our district with a great deal of flexibility,” said Gibson. “Parents have expressed concerns and that’s why I am encouraging the district to seriously consider this particular funding model.”

Gibson told The Record that he welcomes the additional funding for Mission, noting that there are a number of rural areas where students are served by school buses. He believes this fund could be a benefit to them and to the district.

The handful of districts that currently charge families a transportation fee for a student’s local or catchment area school must eliminate those fees to be eligible to access the funding under the program. All districts need to use the funding for transportation services to be eligible.

“I think this is great news for students because the district will now have funding specifically dedicated for transportation,” said Dalton. “This is a new source of funding so that means the district can invest the savings into other programs.”

Funding can also be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • improving service by adding new or amended routes;
  • improving access to local transit services;
  • providing accessible services for students with disabilities;
  • reducing ride times;
  • boosting student safety by relocating bus stops and improving bus supervision; and
  • funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.

To be eligible for funding, districts must submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by Sept. 30 outlining how they will use the funding to boost transportation services for students and families.

Districts will hear back shortly after they submit applications, on how much funding they will receive.

The amount of funding a district is eligible for is based on a formula tied to the Ministry of Education’s student location factor, which is used to determine the rural makeup of a school district. Districts will also be required to report back on the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.