April 17th, 2017
What are the issues facing the eleven members of the Halton District School Board as they review the information that is going to be fed to them by Board staff and the delegations that are made by parents who do not want to see the school their children attend closed?
There are currently about 550 high school students taking a bus to get to school.
Using the different high school closing options the following is the projections that was given to the PAR committee.
Nelson closes – add 364 students to the busing number
Bateman only add 262 students to the busing number
No schools close add 131 students to the busing number
Central and Pearson close add 602 students to the busing number
Bateman and Pearson close add 286 students to the busing number
Central and Pearson close add 615 students to the busing number
The projection is that more than 1000 students will be riding a school bus if Central high school is closed where a reported 92% of the students walk to school.
The cost of transporting those students is said to amount to $400,000 per year.
The amount of money aside – the real issue for the Board is going to be finding the people to drive those school buses. The Board doesn’t actually have to find the drivers – the company they contract with has to find the drivers – but it all boils down to the same thing – school bus drivers don’t get paid very much
School bus drivers get between $55 and $75 a day; there are no benefits and they get paid for just the days they drive a bus. A source told the Gazette that school bus drivers are amongst the highest users of Food Bank services in Halton. This is an operation that is ripe for unionization.
The HSTS is a corporation owned by the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board and is operated on a cost recovery basis.
The French Catholic School Board was at one time part of the consortium but they dropped out.
Stuart Miller, the Director of Education, has said that his Board has no idea how the manpower problem will get resolved in the event that the trustees decide Central high school should be closed. He has not said if there are any contingency plans being developed.
No one, apparently, taken a look at what student life will look like if 1000+ students are riding school buses to get to their classes.
What happens to sports teams?
What about student clubs?
What about their social life – how do they hang around and chill out and learn from each other?
The environmentalists will talk about the tonnes of CO2 the buses will pump into the air and they won’t do much for traffic congestion either.
Will there be two classes of high school students: one social class that uses a school bus and is limited in what they can do extra-curricularly because of the school bus schedule and another class of student that can walk or ride their bikes or have their parents act as chauffeurs?
These are all serious and significant issues – someone should be thinking about what the impact is going to be or will be looking at unintended consequences once we are six or seven months into a new school bus program?
The answers to the questions – or at last some kind of a projection should have been prepared by Board staff so that both the trustees and the parents have some idea of what the consequences are if a lot of high school students have to catch that bus every morning – and every afternoon.
What would a day in the life of a high school student look like if they were attached with close to an umbilical cord to a bright yellow school bus?