Some Lake Country parents are left scrambling trying to find a way to get their kids to school with only three days before school.
Not only is this an inconvenience for parents, but it’s a safety concern.
Parents, including Stephanie Murray and Nikki Rattray, who reside in the Lakes are around 3.6 kilometres—or a 37-minute walk—from the school have been informed their kids are not eligible for bus pickup. But if they lived just 0.4 kilometres father away from the school, they would be eligible for a spot on the bus.
Now they are awaiting news on whether or not their kids will be accepted as a courtesy rider.
“Here we are in the eleventh hour and we don’t have a bus,” Rattray said.
Parents have been trying to get some answers from the school district to no avail. Instead, their phone calls, emails and questions went unanswered as the district is “about two weeks behind our intended timelines,” it said in an email to parents.
Murray, who works with Interior Health, said she is mostly concerned about the idea of her 11-year-old daughter having to walk nearly four kilometres on Okanagan Centre Road, a street that has no shoulder or sidewalk—especially in winter.
“Cars are speeding past that street,” she said. “It’s fast and that’s where they are required to walk.”
“Frankly, I’m a little scared,” Murray said. “We are left with very few options and we have limited access to after-school care. How are little kids expected to walk this distance on this unsafe road?”
Rattray agreed. She said the school district shouldn’t be “picking and choosing.”
“Don’t get some of the kids; get all of the kids,” she said. “That’s just silly.”
Prices for the school bus have increased from $150 to $200 and these two women are more than happy to pay that to ensure their children are safe.
“In a perfect world, I would like to see people who are wanting and willing to pay for a bus get one,” Rattray said.
The two mothers were told they were to receive a notice from the school district if their kids were accepted as courtesy riders by Friday—before the long weekend. And by 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, neither have heard any news.
“School is mandatory and therefore as a taxpayer and as someone who is willing to pay for (a bus), it should be available,” Rattray said.
“In the interim, we ask parents to be patient and suggest you make alternative arrangements for the first week of school in case your student’s application has not yet been processed,” the district said in an email.
Kelowna Capital News has reached out to SD23 Transportation and received word that it would take two- to three-business days to hear back due to the increase in calls.