Erin Richter-Pederson’s home-based daycare is two houses away from the new eligibility boundary for school bus service, which she had been using to send six children in her care to St. Angela School.
As of the new school year, all six children in her care will be unable to use the bus to travel the 1.1 kilometres to the school, including her nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.
Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools are cutting back the bus service they provide to elementary students, allowing each division to save about $1 million.
Students located less than 1.2 kilometres away from their school will no longer be eligible for the service; the current boundary begins at 0.8 km. The school divisions plan to share busing, including routes and double looping. The routes won’t take buses through crescents, but along main arteries only.
Noon transportation for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will also be cut.
Richter-Pederson, who was informed of the changes on Tuesday, said she now has to consider buying a new vehicle or hiring a helper.
She can’t always drive the kids to school, she said, noting sometimes her daycare is full and she has more than six children in her care.
“The thing that bothers me is the bus drives right past my house,” she said, noting a couple of the kids in her daycare are eligible for service if they are picked up from their own homes, but not from hers.
The changes are a response to cuts to the provincial operating grants announced in the 2017-2018 budget. The public division faces an $11.5 million shortfall and the Catholic division faces a $9.7 million shortfall. Their 2017-2018 budgets are due June 30.
The public division’s transportation budget for 2016-17 was $7.8 million. The Catholic division’s was $8.9 million.