Some students will no longer be able to bus to classes after a recent change by school boards to save money.
Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) issued a joint news release Tuesday outlining the cost-saving measure.
Under the new rule, a student will have to live at least 1.2 kilometres from the school, instead of the current 0.8 kilometres, in order to bus to school.
The boards are also nixing noon transportation for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, which could force some schools to switch to a full-day program on every other day of the week.
Buses will also no longer travel down crescents, meaning children will have to walk to stops along main roads up to 450 metres, or about five minutes, away.
Both school divisions said they would also share their buses “where economically viable.”
The changes are expected to save each board approximately $1 million, and will take effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
It’s all part of an effort from the boards to find savings after provincial cuts slashed $9.7 million for the GSCS and $11.5 million for the public board.
The divisions said they’re contacting families directly affected by the changes in walking distances, adding neighbourhood maps with eligible busing areas will be provided by each school.
Saskatoon Public Schools Board Chair Ray Morrison said the changes would result in 1,100 fewer children being bused to school.
He said the board was facing a tough decision to try and fill the financial hole left by the provincial budget.
“This is the most difficult budget we’ve faced,” he said. “So (parents) understand the fiscal realities and the trade-off … do we ask some more students to walk, or do we have larger class sizes?”
Morrison noted some parents have expressed concerns over the move.
“We’ve heard it’s going to create some hardships for them,” he said. “This isn’t a decision that we took lightly.”
He pointed out other cities like Winnipeg have larger radiuses before busing is allowed, often between 1.5 and two kilometres.