300 students on school bus wait list in district

School district may need to add bus routes to cope with growth

The Sooke School District may have to add some new bus routes to cope with the increase in students this year.

Sooke School Board chair Ravi Parmar said bussing is a complicated issue that won’t be easy to resolve.

He explained that the Sooke district puts a cap on the number of students they can bus at 3300, due to limited funding from the government.

“Our district is working with the municipalities to ensure there is safe alternatives of transportation other than bussing,” said Parmar.

Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge said there are approximately 300 students on a waiting list right now to ride the bus this fall, but this could change within the next few days.

“Over the summer we’ve had a big influx of registrations, some of those are new to the community, and some are existing students who hadn’t registered prior to this year,” Cambridge said.

As there is no charge for the bus route this year, he said some families could be taking advantage of it, and others could potentially just be registering for a rainy day.

There has also been an increase in students this year so they added a bus route in response to the district’s projected growth.

“The first week we will do a little survey to see who’s still on the bus and who has left,” said Cambridge.

Once the district finds out how many students plan on riding the bus every day, it will determine whether they have to add routes and where the money will come from to do that.

“When you’re growing as fast as our school district is, we can’t predict who’s moved in and what developments happened over the summer so we pretty much have to adapt every September when we get the new numbers,” Cambridge said.

Parmar said there would be some issues with funding should the district have to add routes, but they are working to find a solution.

“The board wants to provide safe bussing for students that need it, but busses cost money and to add routes we would have to take money out of the classrooms. I don’t think that’s the responsible thing to do, so we will keep working to resolve this issue,” said Parmar. “But when you are bussing well over 3000 people, things aren’t going to be perfect.”

Parmar said he encourages parents to come to the board meetings and share their thoughts and ideas. Adding that for the time being, he advocates those who have the ability and those who are on the wait list to try and find other options of transporting themselves to school.

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