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Consultation extended on school bus changes

15 June 2005

Consultation extended on school bus changes

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced an extension to the consultation period for school transport policy changes.

Important changes are proposed for schools involved in direct resourcing –schools who opt to receive funding directly and manage their own transport requirements. These changes include an enhanced funding formula; improved safety standards; and restrictions on the ability of schools to extend bus routes into neighbouring school catchment areas.

The consultation period, which commenced on 23 May 2005, will be extended to give schools more time to understand and provide feedback on the effect of the proposed policy changes says Trevor Mallard.

“This extension will give more time for school communities to consider how the changes will affect them, and put forward ideas on how the policy can be further refined,” said Trevor Mallard. "No changes to policy or funding will be implemented until the consultation process is complete.

"The funding formula has not been adjusted since 1996. We've proposed a one-off 10 per cent increase in funding to ensure directly resourced school transport remains sustainable. This extra funding of $7.8 million (GST excl) over four years will ensure schools can operate their buses safely and efficiently."

The proposals also include schools and transport operators being required to meet compulsory safety guidelines in order to qualify for the additional funding. In addition, it is proposed that restrictions be put on schools extending bus routes into neighbouring schools' areas.

“School transport is our most effective tool for maintaining a healthy network of schools, and we’re committed to ensuring that future policies continue to provide that crucial support,” Trevor Mallard said.

Schools will now be able to make submissions up until 23 November 2005. The Ministry will hold a series of meetings in rural areas to give communities an opportunity to express their views.

“I encourage school communities with an interest in direct resourcing to take part in this consultation process as their ideas will be very helpful in confirming the way forward,” said Trevor Mallard.

ENDS

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