A student crosses the road Tuesday morning on South Lakeside Drive to catch the bus to Chilcotin Road Elementary School. Parents in the area are upset that the new bus route sees young children picked up early and brought to their new school sometimes 45 minutes before school starts. Parents are also concerned about safety issues along the busy road.

A student crosses the road Tuesday morning on South Lakeside Drive to catch the bus to Chilcotin Road Elementary School. Parents in the area are upset that the new bus route sees young children picked up early and brought to their new school sometimes 45 minutes before school starts. Parents are also concerned about safety issues along the busy road.

School bus route adds insult to injury

Many South Lakeside parents say they’re getting the run-around from School District 27 with their current bussing situation.

Many South Lakeside parents say they’re getting the run-around from School District 27 with their current bussing situation.

“It’s just one thing after another,” said unhappy parent Linda Waterfall. “First it was the school closure (of Kwaleen) and now this.”

Waterfall, and many other parents in the area, are concerned about bussing times for their young children, which have resulted in students arriving to their newly assigned Chilcotin Road School a full 45 minutes before school starts, and often even before supervisors are on-site.

“I feel it’s not acceptable. They’re pushing (the issue) aside, they’re not looking after the kids.”

Waterfall said South Lakeside area children are being picked up at their bus stop anywhere from between 7:16 a.m. and 7:25 a.m. to get to school at Chilcotin Road for a 8:25 a.m school start, just seven kilometres away.

SD 27 superintendent Mark Thiessen said he sympathizes with the early bus pick up, but is not committing to adding another bus to the route just yet.

“I’m not making any promises,” Thiessen said.

“I’ve told parents that we’re going to allow a few weeks to let the dust settle before we commit to anything. The easiest solution would be to provide another bus, but that would also be a costly solution.”

Thiessen ensures the elementary school children will not be left alone at Chilcotin Road School without supervision and has worked with the school to adjust their supervision duty time to accommodate the early bus schedule for former Kwaleen students.

Thiessen said the reason for the early pick-up is because there are too many students on South Lakeside for just one bus run, so the same bus takes two trips.

“We are presently running an early elementary run to Chilcotin Road and a later secondary school run into town (for high school students),” Thiessen said.

Since fielding the complaints, Thiessen said he has driven the route himself behind the bus, and has also had an on-site meeting with South Lakeside parent and former district Parent Advisory Council Parent Rhonda McCreight, who has been spearheading the issue for concerned parents.

As well as unacceptable pickup times, McCreight also pointed out safety concerns at the bus stop on South Lakeside, where students wait along the busy road with no shoulder.

Thiessen said he’s contacting the city regarding the safety concerns on the road and added he expects more efficiencies in the route once the road construction on South Lakeside is complete.

McCreight said that may be so, but it doesn’t address the other problem that while the elementary students are arriving early the high school students are more often than not arriving late for class.