High busing costs kick kids to curb

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Some young children could be missing out on junior kindergarten because of a lack of transportation, says an educator.

Mildred Hall School principal Katey Simmons said some junior kindergarten students haven’t been attending class because they don’t have a means to get there.

Some young students attending the first year of junior kindergarten can’t take the bus and have been forced to find other ways to get to school. NNSL file photo

She could not provide information on how many are being affected.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (YK1) Supt. Metro Huculak said he was not made aware of the problem, but said it will be resolved.

“Staff and parents have agreed to pick up J.K. students from around the district to ensure they are getting an education,” said Huculak. “We will certainly look for ways parents can take advantage of the procedures that are in place to cope with the lack of busing.”

Huculak added he plans to meet with Mildred Hall staff to address the problem.

YK1 representatives met with parents last year to discuss – what was then – the impending busing situation for the first year of junior kindergarten in the territory.

Huculak said about 20 parents expressed concerns, but only one parent had requested transportation.

“By working collaboratively these situations always have a way of working themselves out,” he said.

At the beginning of the school year the city’s school boards conducted a census of how many junior kindergarten students would need to use the bus.

Their data suggested a total of 30 students from the 160 enrolled needed the bus for transportation.

The school boards agreed that those students would have to take an alternate method of transportation due to high costs from the private bus company, said Huculak.

“We have to determine if a parent would have to be present on the bus to supervise students to and from school and if buses would need to be equipped with seat belts” said Huculak. “The initial costs we were presented … were atrocious.”

Education Department spokesperson Pam Coulter said a review is currently under way.

“The review will include a jurisdictional scan of operating standards and regulations, document review of school and school board transportation policies and feedback from various stakeholders which included a survey with principals and superintendents,” she said.