Wheels rolling on new student transportation task force
A new task force has been struck to provide recommendations on the future of student transportation across the province.
Members will focus on issues related to student transportation, including student safety, costs, eligibility, partner collaboration and the responsibilities of school authorities and industry partners. Their scope of work will cover busing for students attending publicly funded schools in urban and rural communities. Members will also consider various service delivery models and services for students with disabilities when developing their recommendations.
Members have agreed to participate in this committee during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the importance of the work. The task force will meet virtually until further notice.
“We committed to improving and modernizing the education system in Alberta. Student transportation is an integral part of the system that needs further attention to address the challenges facing our partners who deliver this service. I have asked this task force to explore options, while putting Albertans’ safety first due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will provide their best advice on how the system can be improved, become more efficient and become more cost-effective in serving Alberta’s students.” Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
Alberta Education officials met with school authorities across the province when developing the new education funding model for the 2020-21 school year. During these consultations, it became clear that student transportation needed further conversations and review. “The safety of students, families and drivers on Alberta’s roads and highways is my top priority. Collaboration is at the heart of this initiative, and I am proud that my department will play a part in ensuring students are transported to and from school as safely as possible.” Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation
Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf will chair the task force. Joining him on the team are Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard, Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Glasgo, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner and Calgary-South East MLA Matt Jones.
The task force also includes 13 members from the student transportation industry, community partners and key education partner organizations. They will be supported by officials from Alberta Education and Alberta Transportation.
“A key component of the elementary and secondary student experience in Alberta is the transportation services we provide to them. The reliability and efficiency of busing systems has a significant impact on student engagement in rural and urban areas. There is ample opportunity to improve the current student transportation system; I am thrilled to begin exploring ways through this committee that we can improve this often understated but crucial service.” Nathan Neudorf, MLA for Lethbridge-East, and chair, student transportation task force “Pacific Western Transportation is proud to be part of the Alberta government’s Student Transportation Task Force. We look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders in the review of Alberta’s student transportation system, and will be guided by our core values and safely home promise.” Jonathan Weal, director of business development, Pacific Western Transportation (Southland Transportation)
“The Alberta School Boards Association appreciates the opportunity to provide input and direction to the student transportation system. School board representation is critical, as they understand the complex needs that differ between urban, metro and rural boards, while representing the full community. We look forward to working collaboratively with government and stakeholders to prioritize the safety of students and ensure an improved transportation system.” Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards Association
“Our current student transportation system has several key pressure points that affect the efficient delivery of these services to urban, rural and special needs students. The College of Alberta School Superintendents is grateful to have been asked to nominate individuals to serve on this committee. We welcome the opportunity to work together to address these pressure points and to cast the net even further, allowing all boards input into a new delivery and funding model.” Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents
“The Association of School Business Officials of Alberta is pleased to participate on the Alberta government’s Student Transportation Task Force. We appreciate this government’s willingness to consult with stakeholders as they look to improve student transportation across the province.” Rod Steeves, president, Association of School Business Officials of Alberta
“The Alberta School Councils’ Association appreciates the opportunity to contribute to this task force. Students deserve safe, reliable transportation to and from school, supported with adequate funding. We are confident stakeholders will work together to determine efficiencies within models while prioritizing student safety, family affordability, and system sustainability of student transportation in our province.” Brandi Rai, president, Alberta School Councils’ Association
The task force will provide their recommendations to the Education Minister this fall. Student Transportation Task Force members
Nathan Neudorf, MLA for Lethbridge-East, chair
Tracy Allard, MLA for Grande Prairie
Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat
Nate Horner, MLA for Drumheller-Stettler
Matt Jones, MLA for Calgary-South East
Representatives from key education and community partners:
Josée Devaney, Fédération des Conseils Scolaires Francophones de l'Alberta
Dexter Durfey, Association of School Business Officials of Alberta
Trisha Estabrooks, Alberta School Boards Association
Brenda Gibson, College of Alberta School Superintendents
Andrew Knack, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
Jody McKinnon, Student Transportation Association of Alberta
Kathy Rooyakkers, Rural Municipalities of Alberta
Jacquie Surgenor, Alberta School Councils’ Association
Chris Gilmore, The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools
Representatives from student transportation industry groups:
Yacine Belhadj, First Student, Inc.
Mark Critch, Sparksman Transportation
Brian Hauptman, Golden Arrow Buses
Jonathan Weal, Pacific Western Transportation (Southland Transportation)
Student transportation funding continues to support a safe transportation system for more than 300,000 K-12 students across Alberta.
School buses in Alberta travel an estimated 450,000 kilometres a day.
Currently, 43 of 61 school boards in the province (70 per cent) have entered into a cooperative transportation agreement to provide transportation services with a neighbouring board.
Budget 2020 funding for transportation will be $310 million, $15 million higher than the previous year. Each school board receives an approximate five per cent increase.
The transportation grant allocation for 2020-21 is being held constant at the 2019-20 level, plus the five per cent supplemental funding, until a new transportation model is developed and implemented.
Provincial investment in student transportation for Budget 2020 is more than $1.6 million per school day.