Bus deal to cost $250k more per year

A rushed start to the 2023-24 school year – Buses returned to the roads September 5, marking the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. This year, school transportation preparation was rushed as it was only one week ago that an agreement between Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Bus Operators Association was reached. Preparation for routes and drivers did not taken place until the new agreement was in place. Pictured above, a First Student (formerly Whitteker Bus Lines) bus nears Morrisburg Public School Tuesday morning for drop off. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

BROCKVILLE – Last week’s agreement between school bus operators and the school transportation consortium will cost the two school boards an additional $250,000 per year over the four year term of the contract.

On August 28, a tentative agreement between Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Bus Operators Association was agreed to, ending a war of words that had broken out between the two sides. STEO is owned by and provides bus transportation for students in the Upper Canada District School Board and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Before an agreement had been reached, the two English-language school boards had been warning that over 30,000 students might have to find alternative ways to get to school.

The 11th hour between STEO and the EOBOA will cost an additional $1 million over the four year deal ($250,000/year) over and above the previous “final offer” STEO offered August 18.

UCDSB spokesperson April Scott-Clarke confirmed to The Leader that the transportation agreement has a total cost of $20 million over and above the four year transportation funding from the Ministry of Education.

“Although this total amount exceeds the amount of funding that is provided to the UCDSB by the Ministry of Education for transportation, based on the structure of the contract, the UCDSB is confident that there will be no negative impact on student programs or transportation services,” Scott-Clarke said.

About three-quarters of the students from the two school boards rely on bus transportation to get to school due to the size of the rural area served.

UCDSB is responsible for 60 per cent of the transportation funding to STEO while the CDSBEO pays for 40 per cent.

The financial impact of the additional transportation spending under the agreement amounts to $150,000 per year for the UCDSB. In comparison, that board approved its $424.4 million budget for the 2023-24 school year in May.

“At this time, we do not have the specific details around where supporting revenue will be drawn from, but we do know that the 2023-24 school year budget will not be impacted and, based on experience, do not expect to jeopardize any future program opportunities,” Scott-Clarke added.

The new transportation agreement will be up for renewal in spring 2027.

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