SCHOOL children in Whitby will be asked to pay towards school bus services from September next year.
The changes implemented by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) mean denominational schools in the region will follow the lead of other schools whose parents already pay for their children’s transport.
Reviews of all existing subsidised local bus provision will also be undertaken; these are not funded by the home to school transport budget, and may lead to an annual charge of £350 for one child by 2013.
The transport routes and networks themselves will remain unchanged until 2016 (for secondary schools) and 2018 (primary schools).
However, children already eligible for free school meals – and those who live more than three miles away from the school – will be exempt from the charge, which will be limited to £525 per annum for families with two or more children attending the same denominational school.
This news comes after a proposal to charge 16-19 year-olds with special educational needs for educational transport was scrapped by the council.
Another idea to be withdrawn will be the ‘equivalent cost’ arrangements which would provide free travel for children to schools out of their catchment area. In these cases, parents will be offered a paid travel permit on existing services if seats are available.
The plan comes from a Savings and Transformation Strategy by NYCC’s Children and Young People’s Service.
Many services will be streamlined and drastically changed to make savings of £23 million over a five year period.
County Councillor John Watson, Executive Member for Schools, said: “It gives us no pleasure at all to take these steps but the financial position of the council is such that the discretionary items in the ‘home to school and college’ transport policy have had to be substantially given up. We have tried to limit the impact on less well off families.”