OPSBA is a member of the newly formed Student Transportation Advisory Group that will review the funding formula for student transportation, the consortia model and operations; and student transportation procurement. Our Association last commented on this issue in 2018 in our response to the previous government’s New Vision for Student Transportation in Ontario discussion paper. An OPSBA internal survey at that time found that the top four service issues were: ride times, driver retention, funding, and school bus safety.
Many boards continue to overspend their transportation budgets to meet their own unique needs and have many components that are part of their local discussions.
This often includes:
- working with their co-terminus boards for shared bus routes;
- program decisions that change bell times;
- accommodating student participation in field trips, sporting events and extracurricular activities; and
- partnering with local municipalities to share busing;
- the high cost of air transportation for Indigenous students from remote northern communities who attend public schools in urban communities;
- supporting students who are at risk or those with special education needs;
- traffic congestion and road construction issues;
- increasing costs charged by consortia not matching ministry funding levels; and
- extreme temperatures.
- The ministry dedicate an appropriate amount of time to meet with stakeholders to discuss student transportation challenges, but that a final report with recommendations is released in a timely manner.
- That when the ministry considers any funding formula changes, that consideration is given to the unique circumstances that each board (northern, rural and urban) faces with student transportation