Busing issues create headaches for Calgary parents with special needs children
School is already in session for some Calgary schools and some parents who thought they were immune to busing change problems are finding out otherwise.
They say the Calgary Board of Education made it tougher to get their special needs kids to and from school and those changes are taking away from time spent in the classroom.
The students at Emily Follensbee School, located on the 51 hundred block of 14 Street Southwest, all have complex learning needs but some parents say the CBE’s new “busing efficiencies” mean their kids are have later pick up times at home and longer wait times to unload the kids wheelchair and that’s making them late for class.
“That creates a lot of stress for him as he enters his school day and that makes it that much harder for his teachers and aides to get him ready to learn and help him focus,” says Ty Ragan.
Ragan’s 11-year-old son has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is legally blind.
Ragan says he was picked up no later than 7:45 a.m. and in class by the 8:40 a.m. start time but now he’s picked up at 8:20 a.m. and is getting to class 30 minutes late.
“I think the CBE doesn’t care about my child getting an education,” says Ragan.” I honestly believe the CBE doesn’t view complex learning needs kids as full students needing a full education. “
School trustee candidate Lisa Davis has seen the line-up of buses unloading children well after the first bell and she says parents aren’t getting straight answers.
“We can see we have kids waiting for 20 minutes,” says Davis. “We want to make sure that isn’t happening in winter and we want them to stagger dismissal times so the ones who are arriving late are the last to leave.”
Davis and Ragan say last year students were dismissed in a staggered fashion so they could stay comfortably in class until their assigned bus was ready; this year students are being dismissed all at once and waiting up to 30 minutes to board their bus.
In a written statement to CTV the CBE admitted there have bene challenges at this school due in part to its hiring of a new bus service provider.
The CBE stated: "Students will receive the appropriate amount of instructional time. The CBE is reviewing the start and end time of the school day and bus pick up and drop off times and adjustments have been made.”
The CBE also said the new bus company uses a different type of vehicle and cannot replicate the former service provider’s system as they acquire different vehicles, the CBE anticipates the load and off-loading to run more smoothly.
Ragan doesn’t blame the bus company he says they’re not being allowed to do the best job they can.
(With files from Lea Williams-Doherty)