| Posted: Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 06:00 am
Bus fees for kindergarten
St. Albert kindergarten students will be subject to bus fees this fall for the first time in 18 years.
The board of St. Albert Public Schools approved its student transportation fees for the 2013-2014 school year on Wednesday. The Greater St. Albert Catholic board plans to do the same on Jan. 28.
In addition to a $20 to $30 a head hike for grades 1 to 12, plus a $5 hike for replacement passes, the public board will now charge a fee for kindergarten students – something neither it nor the Catholic board have done since 1995.
Growing enrolment plus a need for more buses mean that the board can no longer balance its transportation budget without charging kindergarteners for a ride, said public board chair Joan Trettler.
“We have to pay for it somehow, and if the kindergarten students aren’t paying, it has to come on the backs of all the other students,” she said.
The two boards agreed to bring in kindergarten fees at the same time to avoid competition, said David Keohane, superintendent of the Catholic division.
Sturgeon School Division kindergarten students will still ride free this fall, said superintendent Michèle Dick.
“A significant number of our students live farther than 2.4 kilometres from their school,” she explained, so the province pays for their bussing.
The School Act requires students to live more than 2.4 kilometres from school before the province will pay for busing. The new Education Act doesn’t have this restriction, but is not expected to kick in until 2015 as the regulations are still in the works.
For the public board, students who live farther than 2.4 km from school will pay $120 to take the bus. Those between 1.6 and 2.4 km will pay $250, while anyone closer than 1.6 will pay $260.
The Catholic board will set its fees Monday, Keohane said. Fees will be the same for all grades, and will be set based on distance, with rural and urban students getting different rates.
This situation shows that provincial transportation funding is insufficient for St. Albert, Trettler said.
“The funding isn’t keeping up with the costs.”
About 225 Catholic and 217 public students could be affected by this change.
School helps set world record
Elmer S. Gish students are in the history books as of this week due to their efforts to set a world record.
Guinness World Records announced this week that Science.gc.ca had set a world record for the largest practical science lesson at multiple venues.
As part of National Science and Technology Week, Science.gc.ca had about 17,000 students at 121 locations, including Elmer S. Gish School, perform two science experiments at 11 a.m. local time on Oct. 12, 2012. The experiments involved balloons, straws, sprays of water and the Bernoulli effect.
The official total was 13,701 students at 88 locations, said Sabrina Alletson of Natural Resources Canada, as some venues were disqualified by Guinness (they did not specify which ones).
Gish teacher Melissa Zawaduk, who organized her school’s participation in the record attempt, said her students were very excited to hear the news and see their pictures on the Science.gc.ca website.
“They all want to go home and find themselves in the pictures,” she said.
The school does not plan to set any more records in the future, Zawaduk said, but it will be entering the Edmonton Regional Science Fair in April.
“I like (the students) to see they’re part of a larger science community – that it’s not just a subject they’re learning in school,” she said.
Details of the record are available at www.guinnessworldrecords.com/ and www.science.gc.ca.