On Wednesday, 8 January, the Board will be discussing information from the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) regarding consultation on potential changes to school bell times for September 2015, to improve the efficiency of our student transportation.
As some of you may know, transportation for the OCDSB has been underfunded by the province since the introduction of the provincial funding formula in 1998. Having required boards to form transportation consortia with coterminous boards, which resulted in the formation of OSTA, the province has been conducting periodic reviews of efficiency and effectiveness (E & E reviews) for the transportation consortia, and adjusting funding for underfunded boards if a high enough rating was received.
In the last E & E review of OSTA, a higher rating resulted in an increase of funding for the OCDSB, significant contributors to the improved rating being the of increased harmonization of our policy with the Catholic board by matching their transportation services for students in Grades 7 and 8, bell time changes introduced in Barrhaven and elsewhere a few years ago, and generally more efficient routing practices. The funding increase did not cover our entire transportation shortfall, but it is hoped that further improvement in time for the next E & E review will result in another significant funding increase.
A plan was developed several years ago to work towards improved E & E ratings, and the various steps in the plan included reviewing “hazard” areas, reviewing bell times, and completing the harmonization of policies for eligibility for transportation. OSTA staff are beginning their consultation on bell time changes as a next step towards a higher E & E rating and increased funding for the OCDSB.
The report coming to trustees on 8 January, at http://www.ocdsb.ca/calendar/AGENDA%20DOCS/2014%20DOCS/8%20Jan%20COW/08b%20Report%2014-004%20Bell%20Time%20Changes.pdf is only for discussion at this stage. OSTA staff indicate they will be going out to OCASC very soon to speak with school council representatives, and plan to hold Open House sessions in April and May to hear from school communities.
At present, changes are proposed for several Zone 1 schools:
Stonecrest Elementary is proposed to go to a later start, by 10 minutes, changing from 9:05 am to 9:15 am
Stittsville Public is proposed to go to an earlier start, by 15 minutes, changing from 8:45 am to 8:30 am
Kars on the Rideau is proposed for the biggest change, to a later start, by 60 minutes, changing from 8:15 am to 9:15 am
Please note that these are just proposals at this stage, and no changes will be made this September — whatever changes are eventually decided will not happen until September 2015. Also, do not assume that not being listed for a change now means that you will not be affected.
Although there has been some interest expressed in changing high schools to later start times, no changes are proposed for West Carleton or South Carleton, which currently start at 8 am. It is worth noting, however, that changes are proposed for All Saints and Sacred Heart that would move their start times earlier to 8 am.
I’ll do my best to keep you posted, but this is one you’ll want to keep an eye on this year!
Trustee, Zone 1: West Carleton-March, Stittsville, Rideau-Goulbourn