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Parent group says CBE already made bus decision without consulting them

Obtained documents say talks began as far back as March 2014 to extend bus walk distances

The Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils, through documents they obtained, say the Calgary Board of Education had already decided to extend bus walk distances before consulting with parents.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

The Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils, through documents they obtained, say the Calgary Board of Education had already decided to extend bus walk distances before consulting with parents.

A Calgary parent group is saying the Calgary Board of Education had already made a decision to about changing the distance students would have to walk to the bus stop before they reached out for parent opinions.

The Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils (CAPSC) obtained documents through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request. Greg Oberti, vice-president of CAPSC, told Metro that the documents indicate the CBE was talking about changing walk distances as far back as March 2014.

The CBE made a move to congregated bus stops at the beginning of the school year, but after outcry over walk distances from some parents, they have been changing routes and adding buses to shorten walk distances for some students.

“CAPSC is extremely disappointed the CBE made a decision, at least 18 months ago, to transition to a 2.4 km walk distance for all children,” said Oberti.

The documents, which were provided to Metro, indicate a three-year strategy was proposed in March 2014 to phase-out then current walk zones and phase-in the provincial walk zone of 2.4 km, as part of a Transportation Fee Analysis Report.

“Not only was there no consultation, this information was not disclosed to the public until a year later,” said Oberti, referring to February 2015 parent transportation survey. “What the documents show is the decisions had already been made.”

The CBE stated in September that the maximum walk distance for their students would be 1.6 km for elementary students and 1.8km for junior high and high school students.

In response to CAPSC’s claims, the CBE released a statement to Metro.

“This fall, the Calgary Board of Education committed to an independent transportation study to review its service model. We also committed to seeking parent and public feedback as part of a broad public engagement process to review transportation for the next school year and into the future.”

Oberti said the CBE received 3,000 ‘stop change requests’ when they changed the walk limit to 1.4km from a residents home to the bus stop. He said this should have given administration reason to pause before extending bus walk distances.

He believes it’s an issue of safety, asking young children to walk long distances in Calgary winters.

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