Progressive Conservative Education critic and MLA for Dartmouth East, Tim Halman says the Minister of Education must take action to address busing eligibility and the transportation policy that isn’t working for all families.
Colleen Hollohan, a single mother from Dartmouth, has two young daughters who are not eligible to take the bus to school. They must walk 47 minutes to their junior high, crossing Portland Street, one of the busiest streets in the province.
“As a parent, I don’t think any student in Nova Scotia should be walking 47 minutes to school,” says Halman. “In October, I asked the Minister if he would ensure flexibility around busing rules so that all students can get to school safely. The Minister assured me that safety is a priority, yet Colleen’s daughters are still walking for almost an hour and crossing seven lanes of traffic, to get to school.”
Hollohan has received a hard ‘no’ from the school, the school board and Stock Transportation because the family lives 3.2 km away from the school and they must live 3.6 km or farther to qualify for busing. There is a bus that picks up students outside her house for the elementary school that shares a property with the junior high her daughters attend, but they are not allowed on it.
“I challenge anyone – the minister, the superintendent, teachers to do the walk my daughters have to do; backpack, books, instruments and all,” says Hollohan. “We had good weather this fall, but winter is coming and I don’t think it’s safe for my daughters to have to walk 47 minutes in the middle of winter.”
Halman says the Liberal government should look at the formula around busing eligibility and that the distance from the school shouldn’t be the only factor they look at. Sidewalks, crosswalks, how many lanes of traffic there are should all be factors considered in bussing eligibility.
“It’s not working for families,” says Halman. “The neighborhood where Ms. Hollohan lives has a lot of young families and I can assure you this issue will come up again. The Minister should work with the school board and update the transportation policy immediately.”