Kids in Pembina Trails School Division still left without buses, parents growing frustrated

WINNIPEG –

Parents whose kids are part of the Pembina Trails School Division are voicing their frustration over transportation to and from school.

Even though school is now in full swing, many parents still are not able to send their kids on the school bus, prompting the division to issue an apology.

Samantha Remple, whose son started kindergarten this year, is one of the kids currently without a seat on the bus. She said because of COVID, the school division switched to a seat sale for the coming school year.

“I don’t mind a seat sale position. So all summer, June is when they started registration for the children that qualified for buses, so I started calling asking about when the seat sales will be posted,” said Remple.

She said she was told the sales would come soon, but she learned in August, that they wouldn’t be posted until Aug. 28, two weeks before school.

“There is no possible way that they could accomplish all of that paper work in two weeks. So that is already behind.”

Remple said she submitted her form for the bus but didn’t hear anything for a week. The lack of response prompted her to call the school division, but she said she got no answer.

“I believe it was last Friday I got a hold of someone and they said, ‘Yep, they’re working on it, somebody will be calling you back,’ and I never got a call back.”

Remple said she posted her problems online to see if others were also going through similar problems. She said she received several response back from other parents, some saying they had signed up for buses in June and still hadn’t heard back from the school division.

Now that school has started, she said she is having to plan her work schedule around dropping off and picking up her son, adding she has heard other parents are doing the same and are even using vacation time to manage this.

“What I’ve now had to do, is I’ve had to say to my boss, ‘Okay I can’t work these days.’ Thankfully, I have extra support and my dad is able to help pick up my son,” she said. “But I know not everybody has that luxury.”

She said given it is the second year schools have had to deal with a pandemic, the division should have had transportation sorted out.

CTV News reached out the Pembina Trails School Division for comment and was directed to an apology video posted on Thursday from Superintendent Ted Fransen.

Fransen said he apologizes to all families who have been impacted by this problem.

“We have let you down. We know how important family routines are and the important role buses play in that,” said Fransen.

“We can do better, we will do better.”

Fransen said the school board plans to do a review of what went wrong and work to improve the scheduling, the routing, and the communication regarding buses.

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