No more toonies for field trips.
The next time your Kootenay Lake student signs up for the annual band trip, or participates in a class outing to the pool or ski hill, the Ministry of Education will cover the transportation costs involved.
“Throughout our school district the cost of transportation for extracurricular activities has very often been attended to by parent-raised funds or contributions made on behalf of students,” Superintendent Jeff Jones told the Star.
“Parents in essence have been paying a transportation fee.”
But those days are over thanks to a $419,602 cash infusion from the Ministry of Education, which approved SD8’s application for transportation funds, granting them the maximum amount allowable.
And according to Jones, that’s going to make a big difference.
“We believe this will free up additional funding that can go directly to schools, and we also hope it will make it more inviting for teachers to seek opportunities outside the classroom.”
That’s one of the driving principles behind the new curriculum being implemented this year, and this financial backing will “support opportunities that will engage students in our community and beyond,” according to Jones.
The funds will make it possible to offer three additional bus routes in Nelson, Creston and Salmo. This will significantly reduce ride times on the lengthiest routes.
There will also be additional training offered for bus drivers.
“This will be able to address safety training courses for our drivers, recognizing the enormous responsibility they have in getting our students safely to their destination,” said Jones.
Currently SD8 uses Ed Fourchalk’s Drive Smart Program. However, Fourchalk has retired, so they will be transitioning to a replacement program called “Thinking Driver.”
“This is a driver instructor program that is comparable to Drive Smart and is provided by a B.C.-based firm.
“It is the intention of SD8 to train all the currently certified driver instructors in the Thinking Driver program,” reads SD8’s press release.
Currently SD8 provides over 1,000 trips to schools, with the buses travelling a combined total of 90,000 kilometres a year.
“This funding will benefit students in a number of ways,” said Jones.
“We believe it will support schools that might otherwise be unable to afford to take curricular or extracurricular trips, and it will free up resources that can be redirected into learning.”