UPDATED: School District 51 receives funding from government for new buses

School District 51 has received funding from the provincial government for four new buses.

Editor’s note: Quotes from SD51 board members added.

School District 51 (SD51) will be receiving funding for the purchase of four new school buses as part of a $14 million investment by the province of British Columbia.

The school district will receive $540,523 for the four buses, which was requested in the district’s five-year plan.

Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater noted in the press release, “Rural families know firsthand there are challenges that come from living outside major centres – and getting kids to school can be foremost among them. These new buses will help our kids get to class in greater comfort.”

Jeanette Hanlon, secretary-treasurer for the SD51’s school board, was happy to hear about the approval.

“We can apply for it right away once we approve a new bylaw (to approve the transaction),” she explained. “The next meeting (on Dec. 11), board trustees will vote on a bylaw and when the buses come in we just get the money. It’s a pretty easy process.”

Hanlon pointed out the buses could be ordered as early as this week.

SD51 will be receiving four of the 125 new buses to be distributed across the province. The new diesel buses will reduce emissions and have better gas mileage than the current buses.

The release also announced that School Districts 53 (Okanagan Similkameen) and 67 (Okanagan Skaha) will also be receiving funding for new buses.

In order to qualify for a replacement bus from the government, the bus needs to be on a regular school route and have met or exceeded criteria regarding age and distance driven.

For a 78 to 84 passenger bus, it has to be 15 years old or driven 400,000 kilometres. For a 24 to 72 passenger bus, it has to be at least 12 years old or driven 325,000 kilometres, and for a minibus, which is eight to 24 passengers, at least 10 years old or driven 250,000 kilometres.

The next SD51 school board meeting is on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the school board office in Grand Forks at 6 p.m.

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