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Friday, 03 March 2017 08:00

Changes should streamline PRSD transportation decision making

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Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) board trustees hope some adjustments and additions to administrative policies around transportation will result in less time spent around the board table dealing with appeals.

At the Feb. 14 regular board meeting, trustees approved changes to the Appeals of Board Policies document.
“We adjusted the processes in terms of transportation,” said Superintendent Brian Andjelic. “We want to ensure transportation appeals are also adjusted in policy.”
Changes around transportation were made in December, based on a discussion that came out of the October regular board meeting. The board has been dealing with more and more transportation appeals in the last few years, which were eating up valuable time. After discussing one such appeal at the October board meeting, trustees agreed administration should review attendance area boundaries in the Foremost/ Seven Persons area.
In doing some research in how transportation appeals are handled in other school jurisdictions, administration adjusted the policies they follow for transportation approvals as well as appeals.
Added to the Eligibility for Transportation document in the Transportation Handbook was the ability for the Superintendent to make the final decisions around transportation requests and appeals.
Specific points added to that administrative policy include:
• the ability for a student to be transported to a school in another attendance area (school of choice) only if the distance is the same or less as the student is directed to attend and the cost to do so is no more than an additional 10 per cent of the government transportation grant for that student (parents can pay the difference in cost if they so choose to secure transportation);
• a cross-boundary approval shouldn’t lengthen the ride for students currently on the bus and any application that results in ride times for existing students in excess of 10 minutes shall not be considered;
• and, that the board delegates final decisions related to the policy to the Superintendent of Schools.
To accommodate these changes there needed to be an addition to the Appeals of Board Policies policy.
That addition states that due to the flexibility in the transportation policy, the board will not hear appeals related to bus routes and busing outside of current attendance areas and the Superintendent’s decision shall be final. The board will be kept informed of appeals so concerns can be tracked as part of any review of attendance area boundaries.
“This will save us a lot of time in our board meetings,” said Trustee Kathy Cooper upon seeing the policy addition. “As long as I feel I’m updated, then this looks like a good policy.”
Trustee Arnold Frank also liked the trustees would be involved in the dialogue by being kept informed by administration.
 “I also appreciate the wording,” added Trustee Cathy Hogg. “It speaks to the confidence we have in our administration too.”
Chair Stuart Angle said the new process certainly seems more efficient.
“Sometimes the conversation changes from transportation to attendance area boundaries,” pointed out Andjelic. “Therefore it’s important from a governance standpoint ... once we see kind of trends, then the conversation changes from a transportation issue to an attendance area issue. Then the board can have those conversations.”
The board voted in favour of the motion to adjust the Appeals of Board Policies policy.
After the meeting, Andjelic said the board has been spending a lot of time in discussions when parents appeal a transportation decision.
“This has now allowed the superintendent to apply a limited scope of flexibility,” said Andjelic. “We feel this process is fair.”

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor