Residents of Jasper might have noticed a new addition at the two Grande Yellowhead Public Schools in town: a yellow school bus!
GYPSD is piloting a school bus service for the 2022/23 school year after hearing from families living at the Jasper Park Lodge and management at the JPL on Fairmont's plans to expand family housing at the resort as well as the Municipality of Jasper's plans for a transportation vision. Two months into the pilot, Board Chair Dale Karpluk has heard from families who appreciate the bus service.
Transportation funding from Alberta Education is provided to school divisions to address the transportation needs of students who reside 2.4 km or more away from their designated school. The province determines the eligibility criteria of 2.4 km or more.
School Divisions are empowered to determine between two options for addressing transportation needs: Bus Service or Parent-Provided contracts. Historically, Jasper families with children living outside the townsite have received funds to support them in driving their children to school. Parents from the JPL provided many valid reasons for having a school bus model rather than the parent-provided model. Currently, there are 34 riders registered to ride the school bus from the JPL.
The Division is piloting the school bus operation for this current school year to collect data that will be considered in determining the continuation and long-term sustainability of a school bus model for the JPL families. The Division will look at the number of students regularly riding the school bus, the total costs of operating the school bus to the hotel, and the total funds the Division receives for Transportation services. A decision about continuing with the pilot beyond this school year will be determined in May or June of 2023.