Sponsors: District of Hudson Hope
NCLGA Executive Recommendation: Endorse
WHEREAS the provincial government was involved in an initiative to seek input on rural education in fall/winter 2016-2017;
AND WHEREAS school district funding is inadequate for some districts to provide busing to all rural and remote students:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM executive have discussions with Ministry of Education to make clear definitions of rural and remote. Identifying the significant difference between lower mainland rural and remoteness with northern rural and remoteness.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NCLGA and UBCM lobby the BC Government and the Ministry of Education to provide all required funding to bus eligible students to and from school. Because all rural and remote students must have equal access to public education.
There is a need for the BC Government to examine the funding formula and to update it to ensure fairness and equity across BC. The formula needs to take into account the size and distance factors, as well as the population factor.
The Ministry of Education needs to realize that there are several different interpretations in regard to what constitutes ‘rural’ education. The northern Regional Districts viewpoints are that ‘rural’ consists of those schools that service the unincorporated areas within the districts and the smaller schools outside of municipalities whose students are primarily bussed from outlying areas.
All rural and remote students must have equal access to public education and funding for transportation is a key component to that access.
The UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution calling on the provincial government to define more clearly the concepts of rural and remote in the context of K-12 education, taking into account differences between northern and southern regions of BC. Nor have members considered a resolution asking the Province to provide “all required funding to bus eligible students to and from school.”
Resolution 2016-B132, however, asked the provincial government to “reconsider the issue of school bus transportation funding and impacts to school divisions and rural and remote areas.” Due to time constraints, resolution 2016-B132 was not debated at the UBCM Annual Convention and was referred automatically to the UBCM Executive for consideration.
Upon consideration, the UBCM Executive determined that no action was required, since in August 2016, the provincial government had announced a $14.7 million Student Transportation Fund that could be accessed by school districts around the province, to assist with the cost of transporting students to and from school. In October 2016, the Province confirmed that every school district in BC had applied and been approved to receive financial support from the Student Transportation Fund.