Walking School Bus program is in jeopardy.
Walking School Bus program is aimed at increasing attendance rates. However, it cannot operate well without permanent funding.
Pat Graham, the principal of Shaughnessy Park School, a K-8 school in Winnipeg’s North End, expressed his concerned about the future of the program.
Recently, more and more parent volunteers and educational assistants help children who have difficulty getting to school to get to their classes and to come back home safe and sound. The program works for almost three years and more than 60 children receive assistance.
In 2018-2019 academic year the attendance rates increased by 7-16%.
The school principal said that in order to make the program operate successfully, the school needs funding. However, there are certain problems with this.
Graham explained that Walking School Bus program cannot exist only with the help of volunteers. Parents want to be sure that specially trained people help their children. They want to know who will bring their child home. This is a very important safety aspect.
Walking School Bus costs about $15000 a year. Volunteers also receive large fees for their help. The school is not able to cover these costs on its own. In the fall of 2018, the principal asked the government for permanent funding for this project. He was refused.
Winnipeg School Division trustee Mark Wasyliw said that despite the fact that now the government cannot promise permanent funding, the council is thinking how to help the school because the program is very important and brings a good result.
Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen noted that every division needs to look within their budget every year and to find out what the key priorities are.
Graham said that the school is going to ask for permanent funding again in September.