Busing still causing headaches for High Prairie School Division

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Bus driver shortages have plagued High Prairie School Division this school year. On November 7, 265 students who live in Slave Lake or the closest M.D. of Lesser Slave River communities were no longer being bused. Since then, HPSD has been training bus drivers and working on the situation.

As of March 23, “the busing situation in Slave Lake remains unchanged with respect to providing transportation for students living within 2.4 km (the current walking distance) of their designated schools,” says Kyle Nichols, HPSD director of communications. “We are still actively looking for drivers to cover regular routes in the Slave Lake area.”

At the March 22, 2023 High Prairie School Division board of trustees meeting once again busing came up.

Superintendent Laura Poloz’ written report in the agenda package mentions the parking situation at Roland Michener Secondary School (RMSS). Parents have been using the bus lane to drop off and pick up students. The superintendent met with the directors of facilities, business and finance and the Slave Lake bus drivers to troubleshoot the issue.

“Futher discussion is needed,” says the report.

The written report, also says, “Training: First Aid courses offered for drivers; two MELT (driver) training classes held in February (three HPSD and one Northland SD drivers); Approval received to conduct road tests in High Prairie (examiner not yet in place).”

At the meeting, the board of trustees asked administration some questions about the bus app which had come up at parent council meetings.

The long and the short of it is that the bus app is updated the day before at 4 p.m. If there are no new updates, the bus is running. So basically, it’s a no news is good news situation.

If the bus isn’t running, the driver will call the transportation supervisor, who will update the app. The driver will then call all of the parents.

It can take drivers up to 45 minutes to call all of the parents, said Poloz. It can’t be a text or a voicemail; they have to have spoken directly with each parent. That is also why it is so difficult for buses to leave early.

Also, the app doesn’t automatically receive updates if it is open. Parents need to refresh it to receive updates.

With more parents and students driving, the busing situation has also come up at Town of Slave Lake council regarding two different intersections in town.

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