Atikokan bus issue to be revisited

Atikokan residents once again will address the Rainy River District School Board regarding the need for a new bus for the students of Atikokan High School.
David Boileau and Vic Prokopchuk each are scheduled to give a presentation to the board, which is holding its regular monthly meeting in Atikokan on Tuesday night.
As well, Fort Frances trustee Donna Dittaro has submitted a written request to board chair Dan Belluz that the board reconsider its decision to replace the school bus in Atikokan.
At the board’s meeting March 6, trustees voted against a motion to replace the 12-year-old bus used for special school programs and courses at AHS.
The bus is not used to transport students between home and school.
Many parents and teachers argue the loss of the bus will harm AHS’s special programs, such as the “Outers” program, Natural Resources Technology program, as well as make it impossible for students to afford annual field trips to Minneapolis, Biwabik, Winnipeg, and elsewhere.
The bus is driven by five teachers who obtained their Class “B” licences on their own time.
Education Director Jack McMaster said the board’s decision was based more on a concern for risk management, rather than cost.
Liabilities, including breakdowns and repairs, as well as insurance and accidents, were the main motivation for the board’s decision, he noted.
McMaster also insisted AHS still would be able to run all its programs by contracting out the bus service—without the liability issues.
The board has budgeted for additional funding for AHS to take into account the extra busing costs.
Nearly 40 parents, teachers, and concerned residents from Atikokan attended the board’s April meeting to protest the March decision, and appealed to trustees to reconsider.
Tuesday night’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at AHS.