School District 82 to receive financial assistance to help run its bus service.

Northwestern B.C. school district applies for bus money

Money for bus service one of several programs announced recently by the provincial government

The Coast Mountains School District is applying for more than $550,000 to help with school bus costs, available through a new fund recently announced by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

The school district is currently in its second year of a five-year contract with Diversified Transportation for $10.5 million — approximately $2.1 million per year.

The disrict already receives an amount from the ministry for bussing because of the large area it covers, but this new money would be over and above that, said secretary treasurer Alanna Cameron.

The $14.7 million Student Transportation Fund was announced Aug. 10 and each school district is eligible for a different amount depending on the distance covered by the school district and where students are located.

School districts need to apply and include a plan for how they will use the money.

The ministry said school districts can use the money to add new routes, improve disability access and bus stops or improve access to public transit.

But the criteria also includes “funding existing transportation services and inviting the savings into enhanced student services,” according to a ministry statement. That would make the grant effectively part of the district’s general revenue.

A handful of other school districts in the Lower Mainland currently charge families a fee for bus services, but Cameron said busing in our district is free.

More money for bussing is one of several announcements made by the province recently to put more money into the hands of school districts.

Districts with rural schools are now eligible for assistance and the province is returning $25 million to school districts that it had them find in their budgets and then send back earlier.

And a $35 million program for minor projects has now been increased to $45 million.