Petition decries massive increase to busing fees in Vernon School District

Up in arms over fee hike

As of midday Tuesday, more than 700 people had signed a petition decrying a move to increase school bus fees by more than 700 per cent in the North Okanagan.

Last week, the Vernon School Board announced bus rates for the 2021-22 school year would go from $25 per eligible rider to $200 – and that has many parents up in arms.

Courtesy riders within a catchment area will pay $200, while courtesy riders outside the catchment will pay $300.

Students who are riding the bus for a single semester will pay the full amount, but riders only taking the bus one way will pay half the fee.

Students riding a bus to a program of choice, such as a French immersion school, will pay $300.

“These fees are being implemented to expand busing service to students who attend 'programs of choice' like Montessori and French immersion, not our eligible riders going to school within their catchment,” said a statement on the petition page.

“School tax is one of the services you are charged for on your annual property tax notice. The tax isn't based on whether you or your family use the public or private school system. The education system benefits all B.C. residents, including people without children in school. You pay school tax to share in the cost of providing education in B.C. Considering we are already contributing to school tax and have a right to access education, this is completely unfair to rural families, especially in an economically depressed area that has been further economically effected during covid times.

“This is a substantially large cost for families to have to budget for with little notice.”

A staff report to the board states the changes will generate more than $300,000 in additional revenue.

There are 1,753 eligible riders in the district and 886 courtesy riders.

More Vernon News