News release

Bussing in Place for Ridgecliff Middle School Students

Students of the new Ridgecliff Middle School in Beechville will take the bus after all. Education Minister Jane Purves said students will be bussed until sidewalks are completed along a 3.6 kilometre stretch approaching the school.

The extra bus is being funded through a three-way partnership. The Halifax Regional School Board will pay to bus students while sidewalk construction takes place in phases over the next two years. Scotia Learning Centres, the partner who built the school, and the Department of Education will split the costs of the extra bus for the periods between each phase, until sidewalks are complete.

The agreement was reached following a meeting last week with concerned parents. Ms. Purves said the parents presented a unique set of circumstances, including a busy industrial park, traffic volume, the number of students walking and the priority attention being given by the Halifax Regional Municipality to sidewalks in the area.

"We want to do what's reasonable and right for students," Ms. Purves said. "In this case, that means bussing."

Ms. Purves praised Scotia Learning for partnering in this solution. "Scotia Learning is clearly interested in more than the building -- Scotia Learning is interested in the safety of students within it."

Ms. Purves also commended local business leaders Fred Webster and Fred Roach, whose original fund-raising offer sparked this partnership approach.

Beyond solving the immediate concern in Beechville, Ms. Purves said the provincial regulation setting a 3.6 kilometre distance for students to walk must also be reviewed.

"Three-point-six kilometres seems like a long way to walk to and from school every day," Ms. Purves said. "I will ask our school board funding group to review this issue this fall."

Most boards already bus within the 3.6 kilometre distance.

Board chair Stella Campbell said the solution is consistent with the board's transportation policy. "We are particularly pleased the 3.6 kilometre regulation is going to be reviewed," Ms. Campbell said. "That should be good news for students throughout our region in future years."

The board also confirmed that buses are full in the area. Therefore, rescheduling the bus routes would not address the issue.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has committed that sidewalks will be complete by 2001.

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Contact:

Donna MacDonald
Dept. of Education 902-424-2615 902-499-0264 E-mail:
Karen Martin
Halifax Regional School Board 902-464-2226
arc                      September 2, 1999              9:50 a.m.