The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) is concerned parents may not find out details on schedule, route and cost of busing for the next school year until late in the summer due to the timeline given by the province for Bill 1.
At a board meeting on Tuesday, CBE chief financial officer Brad Grundy said the first version of the new legislation isn’t expected until June 1. That document would provide a clearer outline to the board on the province’s definition of transportation and supply fees. The Notley government announced in its spring throne speech that some of those fees would be absorbed by the province.
By the end of June, the CBE would be expected to have its fee schedule for the 2017-18 school year submitted to the province for consideration and approval. In late July, the province should have a response back to the board, with a finalized schedule of fees released to the public on Aug. 25.
Board chair Joy Bowen-Eyre said the timeline contradicts the wishes of parents, many of whom expressed a desire to know sooner-than-later about any changes to transportation.
“Given the timeline the government has said this Bill 1 fee regulation will roll out, we’re not going to be able to inform our parents of transportation times, routes, school times, possibly, and cost,” said Bowen-Eyre.
“We transport just under 40,000 students every day, and we have a very small transportation team that supports us. I’m not sure how we would turn-and-burn 1,100-plus school routes in a very few short days.”
The approval for this fall’s fee schedule is just the beginning of provincial influence over fees charged by schools. Grundy said starting in 2018-19, all fees will be subject to oversight by the province.
“School jurisdictions would have a fee policy that speaks to how and when we would engage with the public around fees, a process for establishing the amount of the fee, and it would also envision us issuing a fee schedule setting out all the various fees and what that amount is, which would then be submitted and approved by the ministry before it would be available to the public.”
“That sound you hear is local autonomy being eroded, just in case anybody is wondering what that sound in the room is,” quipped trustee Amber Stewart.
The timeline for the implementation of Bill 1 and its impact on the CBE is expected to be a topic of discussion when board administration meets with education ministry representatives on Wednesday.