CTR-Catholic looking at busing for new school
Education: Transportation parents’ main concern for Davisburg facility
Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 06:00 am
Wow. Talk about planning for the future.
Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools is preparing bus routes for their future Davisburg School despite not having the school, the buses or even the students in place yet.
The division is hoping to have potential bus routes for the new K-9 Davisburg school in place before a public consultation meeting in the spring.
“What we found out last year in regards to boundaries is the number one questions from parents is: ‘How long will my child’s bus ride be and will it be longer than my current bus ride?’” said Chtist the Redeemer superintendent of schools Scott Morrison. “The issue of where their child will be going to school wasn’t as big as the busing issue.”
The K-9 Davisburg school, which will neighbour the Scott Seaman Sports Rink, is scheduled to open in September 2016. It will alleviate enrolment pressure on the division’s Okotoks elementary schools and the junior high St. John Paul II Collegiate.
“What we are looking at is basically everywhere north, east and west of Okotoks, map out where are kids are and what the drive times will be from different spots,” Morrison said. “We use that to help set the first set of boundaries which we will share with parents.”
Mapping and preparing the routes will mean the division’s transportation manager Vanessa Douville will spend more time behind the wheel than a Greyhound bus driver.
Douville, working along with Southland Transport, will map out potential routes and bus stops. She will give parents realistic time estimates for bus ride times at the next public forum.
The division will likely have to purchase buses when the Davisburg school opens, said Michael Kilcommons, division associate superintendent, corporate services.
“We didn’t want to add any buses, but it is virtually impossible to build a school and not add buses,” Kilcommons said. “The ones causing the real challenges are the students in the Millarville-Priddis area because they (the homes) are quite far away and sparse. “It’s not like we can run around and pick them up quickly. One bus would have to travel a great distance to pick up everyone northeast of town… We are taking care of them now and we will continue to do so.”
For the routes the division is currently studying, the cost would be between $55,000 and $60,000.
Kilcommons said the goal is to have bus trips down to less than an hour, or an hour and a quarter at the longest.
Adding buses will have an impact on the division’s budget.
“We will be spending more because we have to pick up a couple of more buses,” he said. “Quite a few school boards run deficits, we haven’t yet, but I can easily seeing us having one.”
The division does have money in reserves for transportation.
CTR-Catholic School budgeted approximately $4.9-million for transportation for its $101-million 2014-15 school year.
Its busing is supplied by Southern Transportation. Kilcommons said it has been a good relationship for many years.
Now the division is working hard to get some proposals in place.
“Vanessa and I are working together to get it done very quickly,” Kilcommons said. “We will take it to senior administration, hash it out and have another public consultation, likely in the spring. We want to give everybody plenty of prior notice.”
Morrison agreed parents have to be informed as quickly as possible.
“At the end of the day, you know not everybody is going to be happy,” Morrison said. “We want to work early, communicate well — give good information to the parents and get good information back.”