School board opts against outside help for bus plans

The Clearview school board has nixed plans to hire an outside company to perform a review of the school division’s transportation routes.

The Clearview school board has nixed plans to hire an outside company to perform a review of the school division’s transportation routes.

The review would be conducted by First Planning Solutions of Burlington, Ont.

The initial report submitted by First Planning Solutions lays out the Clearview transportation system and what it means to be efficient. A route is considered efficient if it limits ride time or if the seats are full.

If the board decides to go ahead with the review, First Planning Solutions will chart ways to make the transportation routes more efficient, taking into consideration that the buses aren’t full.

“I can’t see anything here that they’re doing that we aren’t already doing,” said trustee Karen Holloway. “It’s not bad enough that we need to pay somebody to take a look at it when it’s just been looked at and we look at it every single year.”

The rest of the board agreed, and the motion was not carried.

Holloway presented a summary of an Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) conference she went to about engaging with the community.

The conference stressed the need to be authentic and transparent, so the public believes they aren’t being misled and that they have a say in decisions. Holloway also learned at the conference to involve the public in decisions as much as possible.

“We have work to do to assure people that what they say won’t go in one ear and out the other,” she said.

The board received feedback from teachers in the school division on the proposed school calendars. Some schools had no feedback, such as Botha and Big Valley, but teachers at William E. Hay had concerns. One anonymous respondent wondered why the teachers were supposed to be at school for Monday, June 29, and Tuesday, June 30.

“I have only looked at the calendar for 2014/2015,” the teacher wrote. “It’s all I could stomach, and to say the least, it is insulting. Once more, the board that says it has the best teachers has shown nothing but contempt for their teachers.”

Board chair Ken Checkel said “there are a lot of factors that go in to creating the calendar, and we try to take everything into account, but in the end we do have to balance things out.”

Trustee Staci Gerlitz said she’s continuing to try to improve communication between the board and students.

“There’s a little confusion about what I’m doing,” Gerlitz said. “The purpose is to communicate directly to students.”

As a first step, she plans to place suggestion boxes in the district schools, beginning next month.