RVS increases transportation fees by $10 for 2014/2015 school year
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 10:48 am
After a lengthy debate Rocky View Schools (RVS) board of trustees came to a decision May 1, to raise transportation fees by $10 per student to a $20 per family maximum.
The move will see a raise in transportation fees for rural students from $165 in 2013 to 2014, to $175 in 2014 to 2015.
The family maximum will increase from $330 to $350.
For urban students the fee increases from $185 to $195 per student to a family maximum of $390 from the $370 parents paid last year.
“This is primarily the result of lack of funding from the Government of Alberta for a third year,” said Darrell Couture, associate superintendent of business and operations.
The trustees went against the Superintendent’s Report, which recommended an increase of $35 per student and $70 per family maximum.
This recommendation was given to offset a projected deficit of $274,783, while still allowing the student transportation reserve fund to remain within the board mandated range of 10 to 15 per cent of the annual student transportation budget.
Trustee Sylvia Eggerer initially made a motion to keep transportation fees the same as in the 2013 to 2014 school year but that motion was defeated as it ended in a tie with Eggerer, Trustee Norma Lang and Trustee Fiona Gilbert in support and Board Chair Colleen Munro, Trustee Todd Brand and Trustee Bev LePeare opposed.
Trustee Helen Clease was absent from the meeting.
“I would really like us to try and keep fees the same and use some of our reserves and address the concerns next year,” Eggerer said, noting parents had already shouldered a hefty $50 increase in transportation fees in the 2013 to 2014 school year.
“I don’t like the fact that we have to charge parents a fee at all,” said LePeare. “But I can’t go out there and tell parents I voted for no fee increase this year and then slam them next year.”
Following Eggerer’s defeated motion, LePeare made the motion to increase fees by $20 per student and the family maximum by $30.
“I think it is as close to a win as we can get while recognizing the enormous need the transportation department has,” she said.
She said she didn’t like the idea of using reserve funding because there are a lot of unforeseen elements that it may be needed for such as the rising fuel prices.
“If we increase the fee somewhat this year, maybe next year we won’t have to increase it as much or decrease service,” she said.
LePeare’s motion was defeated due to a tie vote with LePeare, Munro and Gilbert in support and Eggerer, Lang and Brand opposed.
Brand made the motion that was finally passed with Brand, Munro, LePeare and Gilbert in support and Lang and Eggerer opposed.
The move will provide RVS with roughly an additional $100,000 in fee revenue, with the remaining $174,783 deficit to be covered by reserves.
Brand said the smaller increase still allows the reserves to stay at 10 per cent of the annual budget, while respecting parents by requiring a smaller increase.
“Having a smaller increase this year buys us some time to work out other savings areas next year,” he said.
Eggerer withdrew the motion that was tabled at the April 17 meeting to have Ralph McCall School and C.W. Perry School act as field test sites for the alternative calendar for the 2014 to 2015 school year.
She said the move was made because it was simply too late to make changes to the 2014 to 2015 calendar at this point.
Eggerer withdrew the motion on the condition the schools could present an alternative calendar option to the board for the 2015 to 2016 school year.
“If the interest is still there in the 2015 to 2016 school year, I think we need to (present to the board) at the same time the board reviews the traditional calendar,” she said.
Eggerer added she will be getting in touch with the parent councils for the schools soon to determine if there is an interest in pursuing the alternative calendar and getting them started on preparing a presentation to the board.