A Winnipeg mother wants the Winnipeg School Division to change a transportation policy after learning the school bus will pick up her son’s best friend at her house this year — but not her son.
Eight-year-old Damon Silversides goes to Brock Corydon school, as does his buddy, Max. Damon is in the English program — Max, who lives down the street, takes bilingual Hebrew classes.
The school division previously had a policy that allowed children who didn’t qualify to take the school bus — because they lived too close to their school or attended a “school of choice,” as opposed to their catchment school — an option to pay a nominal fee to use the service.
Earlier this year, the school division announced that as a cost-saving measure, it would axe that policy, but the changes didn’t apply to children enrolled in bilingual instruction.
That means a student like Max — in a bilingual Hebrew class — can keep taking the bus.
But Damon, who lives in the catchment for a different, closer school to his house, doesn’t qualify for bus transportation. He’s caught without a ride to school or a buddy to travel with.
“It’s terrible. It’s sending a wrong message to our children,” said Tannis Silversides, Damon’s mother.
“He doesn’t understand that just because he’s not enrolled in the Hebrew program at Brock Corydon that the bus will not take him. It doesn’t make sense to an eight-year-old. It doesn’t make sense to me either.”
“I’m kind of sad about it,” said Damon. “I’m fine going on the bus but without Max, I kind of wanted to stay with him on the bus,” he said.
“It’ll be kind of confusing because I always go on the bus almost every day.”
For the past three years, Tannis Silversides paid $440 a year for Damon to ride the bus that his sister rode for free, because she was also taking Hebrew-language instruction. Tannis’s daughter has moved on to middle school but the bus pick-up spot for eligible children — her house — seems to have remained.
Silversides said she’s cut back her work hours — and lost pay — in order to drive her son to school this year. She’s written several letters to the Winnipeg School Division about the predicament many parents find themselves in this September because of the changes.