Prairie Land School Division: board that truly cares

Overall enrollment of students  in their division has increased, reported Prairie Land School Division  (PLRD)administrators at their monthly meeting on Wed. Sept 16.

Superintendent, Cam McKeage, complimented the Returning to Rural program (a rural development initiative focused on engaging, attracting and retaining youth, serving the communities of the Special Areas and MD of Acadia No.34 region) as a possible reason for their spike in kindergarten and ‘pre-k’ children in the area.

With this increase in new, young students to their schools, comes the logistical challenge of efficient yet cost-effective bus routes for these children.

According to the board, policy dictates that a student’s school bus commute should not exceed 90 minutes. Yet despite this allowance, there was a great deal of vocal concern that 90 minutes was still long for kindergarten students.

Comments were made such as, “would I be happy if that was my child”.

PLRD administrators went out into their rural areas to discuss  the bussing challenges directly with concerned parents.

Transportation Supervisor, Brad Berg, proposed adding a third school bus to the Berry Creek bus route as a means of not only reducing ride times for the current school year but looking ahead and planning for future students.

Concern was voiced for the Berry Creek bus drivers and the potential loss of income if their routes were reduced.

Berg was quick to compliment the Berry Creek school bus drivers, having previously discussed this issue with them. Apparently the small loss of income was not as important as the well-being of the their passengers, he said.

This motion was carried, despite the additional $6,000 price tag.

Chief Deputy Superintendent and Transportation Coordinator, Steven Nielsen, voiced his concerns about his efforts to work within the budget, saying that despite sourcing cheaper buses in the USA, how does he say no to purchasing new tires for a bus that is in need of them to safely transport students to and from school, or diesel to get the buses on the road?

There are factors that cannot be budgeted for such as road or weather conditions, road closures and other such events that are outside the board’s control.

Superintendent McKeage shared his agenda for their upcoming PD day on Oct 2.  Health and wellness is a theme that will be a priority for the year.

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