Bus money to benefit school district programs

The Coast Mountains School District is getting more than $550,000 from the provincial government to help run its bus service,

The Coast Mountains School District is getting more than $550,000 from the provincial government to help run its bus service, enabling it to redirect the same amount to help pay for some of its more specialized services.

“This is new money and the school district has been advised that it will be ongoing, not just one time funding. So it will continue beyond this fiscal year,” said school district treasurer Alanna Cameron.

The school district does not charge students to use its buses and it finances the cost, placed at $2.4 million this year, from its operating budget with some assistance from the province already because of the district’s large coverage area.

The $557,786 comes from a $14.7 million bus transportation program announced by the province in late summer.

School district officials had warned earlier that rising transportation costs could mean cuts in its educational offerings.

But that has now eased because of the new money and the district says it will help pay for two coordinators recently hired to improve the reading and math levels of its students, to finance its pre-school program called StrongStart, to finance its French immersion program, to continue student counselling, to mentor teachers and to provide elementary band instruction.

The district is into the second year of a five-year contract with Diversified Transportation which provides buses on 27 regular routes and three special needs buses for service in Terrace, Kitimat and the Hazeltons and surrounding rural areas.

The new provincial bus money was weighted toward districts operating in larger rural areas.

The Cariboo-Chilcotin district, for example, received the largest amount at $739,024 while the Prince George district received $687,663 and the Nechako Lakes district which covers the area from Burns Lake to Vanderhoof, received $503,247.

The school district covering the Nass Valley received $130,091.