School boards will be getting help with skyrocketing diesel costs impacting school bus budgets.
Alberta Education announced the Fuel Price Contingency Program was being reinstated to give public, separate, francophone and public charter school authorities greater cost certainty while monthly average diesel prices exceed $1.25 per litre.
The program, enacted retroactively from March to June, will provide about $8.2 million in additional student transportation funding based on an estimated average diesel price of $1.80 per litre.
Alberta Education says the province will continue monitoring fuel costs into the 2022-23 school year and will provide cost relief accordingly.
“By providing further fuel cost relief to support transportation services for more than 300,000 kindergarten to Grade 12 students, we are helping prevent service reductions and additional fees for families,” said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in a statement.
“With high diesel prices expected to continue, Alberta’s government continues its commitment to ensuring school boards and public charter schools have predictable and sustainable transportation funding.”
Alberta Education says fuel costs typically make up 20 to 25 per cent of a school authority’s student transportation budget.
Earlier this month, the Alberta School Boards Association called on the province to reinstate the funding which had been available from 2005 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2013 to address fuel prices.
“We appreciate the government’s commitment to supporting a strong transportation system in our communities. This funding will ensure that students can continue getting to school safely without significant cost increases to school boards,” said association president Marilyn Dennis.
In July, eligible school authorities will receive payment for March to June according to established bus route distances.
The fuel contingency funding is in addition to the $310 million allocated for student transportation for the current school year. The province also provided school authorities with about $2 million in relief for the 2021-22 school year by suspending collection of the 13-cent-per-litre provincial fuel tax on April 1.