There were 55 times last year that routes in the Peace Wapiti School District had to be cancelled due to a lack of spare drivers.
Superintendent Sheldon Rowe says that, along with increasingly long bus rides for students, are a result of rising transportation costs for school districts across the province.
“We have people who are mechanics at the shop who go out and drive the bus some days, we’ll have our partsman driving the buses. All those sorts of things occur, but ultimately if we can’t find someone to drive a bus, we can’t find someone to drive a bus.”
There are 110 students this year, up from 35 in 2011, that are spending more than 2 hours a day riding the bus.
Rowe says that is all due to the fact that there is now more than a million dollar disparity between revenue and expenditures for their transportation system.
“Fortunately the Department of Transportation is out there, they are earning side money. We provide busing contracts for charter, and we earn about $500,000 extra. I think last year we just hovered around that $500,000 deficit, even after they earned that extra half a million.”
Rowe says overall their budget is balanced, but they are having to take money away from classroom spending and use to pay for transportation costs.