Though many of the changes made to the School Act appear to be a step in the right direction, it does leave some pretty big unanswered questions.
While the alignment of legislation to better support First Nations, Inuit and Metis students is surely welcome news and the adjusted age of entry for kindergarten students will hopefully ensure more success for youngsters, the restrictions to transportation fees still remain inadequate.
School boards can no longer charge fees for students who are bused to school from distances of 2.4 kilometres or greater. This looks great on paper but the restrictions come as a headache to school boards as the province has not kept pace with the true costs to transport.
It’s only a matter of time before services are impacted, and then you can be sure parents will be complaining.
“ When you get the same amount of dollars and your costs are going up, you have to reduce services,” Superintendent of Schools Greg Luterbach said in December 2017 when the Board of Trustee reviewed the 2017-18 budget. “ With no increase in our grants for even inflation… we can’t do what we did last year. We have to make changes.”
Ultimately, for school boards to keep up, the province will have to open its wallet. Of course, this translates into taxpayers opening their wallets in a province where it seems everything is going up – except, that is, for paycheques.