By Lorene Keitch

Pioneer Staff

Several Valley families are facing frustration right now due to bussing changes for courtesy riders (riders offered a seat on a bus outside of their school boundary). Parents were given fair warning back in June there would be a shift, but with no traditional alternatives it has left some families struggling to figure out after-school options.

Mine is one of the families facing this challenge. Our kids go to school out of their boundary because we didn’t want to force another change on them when we moved to town. We have a great support system in our kids’ current school and value the work the staff has put in to making our kids’ schooling a success.

Thankfully, we are exploring alternatives and I think one will pan out; there may be an in-home care option, another daycare is considering possible after-school care and, if all else fails, I will take my lunch after school and drive my one child who needs to get to a different daycare, then head back to work. It’s not ideal, but at least I have some out-of-the-box options to explore.

Our neighbouring community of Kimberley is facing a greater challenge. Rocky Mountain School District has decided chidren within four kilometres of a school (as the crow flies), can walk to and from school. No bussing options are available. With parents who work in Cranbrook, or entrepreneurs who would need to shut down to pick up kids, combined with a severe limit in after-school childcare options, parents there are scrambling even more.

While I understand the need for school boards to be fiscally responsible, and in my case it is because we choose to put our kids in a school out of bounds, it highlights just how vulnerable families are. It doesn’t take much for us to go from stable to unstable in our lives. Without our out-of-box-the solutions, our own family would be left with some hard choices, including quitting one of our jobs, or moving to a community with more family support. All because of a bus change.

I hope when the school board makes changes, such as the drastic ones in Kimberley this year, they consider the vulnerable position it leaves families in, and they weigh all options before making these vast, sweeping changes.

Kimberley parents have started a petition; find more on