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April 21, 2011  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Ontario to provide increased funding for student transportation


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TORONTO — The Ontario Ministry of Education has released additional information about student transportation funding through the Grants for Student Needs for the 2011-12 school year.

A memorandum on March 31 indicated that the government would provide more transportation funding for the coming school year. The total student transportation grant is projected to be $844.7 million. Now, the ministry has provided a detailed board-by-board summary of the funding allocation. 

In a memorandum to the province’s directors of education, superintendents of business, transportation managers and the Ontario School Bus Association this week, Cheri Hayward, director of the ministry’s school business support branch, wrote that the ministry will provide $2.6 million to support boards with increasing enrollment. As in the 2010-11 school year, the stable funding guarantee will continue, but it will be based on 50 percent of a board’s decrease in enrollment. As an example, if a board’s enrollment decreases by 5 percent, its allocation will be reduced by 2.5 percent.

Moreover, the cost benchmarks in the student transportation grant will be increased by 2 percent to help recognize higher fuel, capital and other operating costs. This update is projected to be $10.3 million and will include the fuel portion of the student transportation grant. In addition, the 2-percent cost updates will be netted against any reported transportation surplus from a board’s 2010-11 financial statements. Boards with a 2010-11 transportation surplus equal to or greater than the 2-percent cost benchmark increase will not be eligible for the enhancement.

Also for 2011-12, the ministry will update the pegged fuel prices to $0.918 per liter for southern school boards and $0.938 per liter for northern school boards. A fuel escalator and de-escalator component incorporates a 2 percent efficiency assumption into the pegged price to take into account the operators’ ability to purchase fuel in bulk or at discounted prices. Hayward added that the Grants for Student Needs regulation will establish a corridor of 3 percent above and below the adjusted funding pegged price. If fuel prices are above or below this corridor in any month within the fiscal year from September to June, a funding adjustment will apply.

The memorandum includes information on routing efficiency adjustment and full-day kindergarten transportation funding as well. Hayward wrote that declining enrollment provides an opportunity for consortia to realize efficiencies through route optimization strategies. The ministry will apply a 1-percent reduction to a board’s transportation allocation if the board has not achieved a “high” rating in routing and technology from effectiveness and efficiency reviews. Boards that have a high rating in their follow-up review in 2011-12 will be exempt from the 1-percent reduction in the subsequent year.

Finally, to support the implementation of full-day kindergarten in Ontario, additional transportation funding will be provided to boards through the transportation grant in the 2011-12 Grants for Student Needs. Consortia are required to prepare a routing simulation based on full implementation of full-day kindergarten and supporting documentation, Hayward wrote. 

To read the memorandum in full, click here.


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