Some parents and daycares in Saskatoon are still without a clear solution after cuts to the school bus system.
Starting this school year, noon-hour bus service has been cancelled. The cut mostly affects students in preschool programs.
“I have a few parents panicking,” Daycare operator Cindy Sinclair-Urquiza said.
“They’re going: ‘I’m not going to be able to go back to work, how am I going to manage this? I’m not going to be able to take time off at lunch.'”
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and Saskatoon Public Schools issued a statement in May notifying parents the noon-hour program had been cut, along with other changes.
Most kindergarten programs in Saskatoon have moved to operating every other day and alternating Fridays, as opposed to half-days last year. The schedule changes should limit the impact of the reduced bus service.
However, the majority of preschool programs still operate on half-days starting in the morning or afternoon — with children coming and going around noon.
Sinclair-Urquiza has been running her daycare for around 25 years.
She said with changes like this, she’s lucky to have a second worker.
“It’s a huge inconvenience for parents and a huge inconvenience for daycare homes,” she said.
Sinclair-Urquiza said four children in her care are directly affected by the bus service changes. She said she either has to tell parents who may not be able to get time off work they have to pick up their children themselves, or shell out for more staff.
“I will have to hire people to either be here at the daycare, or hire two more people to go and do pickups for me,” Sinclair-Urquiza said.
She said the cost of new workers wouldn’t be passed on to parents.
Ray Morrison, Saskatoon Public Schools board chair, said they’ve done their best to inform parents.
“We did contact all of the parents that were going to be impacted and it was posted in school newsletters,” Morrison said.
“This shouldn’t be a surprise to folks.”
Sinclair-Urquiza said the changes may mean she has to adjust which children have full-time spots at her daycare, in turn affecting how many kids she can keep.
“That takes away from my business and it takes away from being able to serve as many people as I can serve in the community,” she said.
The school divisions said they won’t know which schools will be affected, and which programs have changed, until closer to the start of school.
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said they’ve cut noon-hour bus funding for 11 of their 43 elementary schools.
The schools made the busing changes in the wake of provincial funding cuts to education.