Decision delayed at RVS meeting
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
The Board of Trustees of Rocky View Schools (RVS) failed to reach an agreement regarding transportation fees for 2017-18 at its April 13 meeting, despite entertaining four different motions.
According to Superintendent of Schools Greg Luterbach, the division has received an approximately one per cent increase in revenue since 1993, while at the same time, recorded a deficit of approximately 18 per cent.
“Just this year, we are going to be in about a $600,000 deficit position for our transportation budget,” he said. “We have been using reserve funds out of transportation to maintain services to the best of our ability while struggling with the revenues.”
Options for dealing with the projected deficit next year include a couple of scenarios that would directly impact student learning and families, according to Luterbach, including taking money from the instructional budget and substantially increasing fees for both resident and non-resident students.
The first motion trustees considered would have accepted a staff recommendation to increase fees for students living less than 2.4 kilometres (kms) from their designated school to $325, an additional $95 to $105 per student per school year, while increasing fees for non-resident students to $450 from $405 per year for those accessing a bus within RVS boundaries and to $1,000 per year from $750 for those accessing a bus outside of those boundaries.
Ward 4 Trustee Helen Clease said she understood the decision was not going to be easy.
“If I vote in favour, it will be while holding my nose because I don’t like it,” she said. “At this point, we know we’re going to be struggling.”
Trustees discussed the impact of Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees introduced by the provincial government March 2, which includes the removal of transportation fees for students travelling to their designated school as long as it was more than 2.4 kms from their home.
Ward 3 Trustee Todd Brand reminded trustees that the deficit is not only due to Bill 1.
“(The) direct impact of Bill 1 (on RVS) is approximately $150,000. If Bill 1 doesn’t pass in the legislature, that’s the amount we will be affected,” he said.
Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations Darrell Couture agreed and said, “the bulk of this is inappropriate government funding for the last 10 years.”
The issue of transportation fees will return for further discussion and debate at an upcoming board meeting.