My name is Isabel Huang. I am a grade 10 French Immersion student attending Sardis Secondary School.
Many French Immersion students, including me, live on the north side of the highway and get bussed to Sardis Secondary. For many of us, this is our only way to get to school as many parents are unable to drive to the other side of town multiple times a day. I am writing because we are growing increasingly frustrated at the unfair cost of busing and the unreasonable times students are arriving home.
French Immersion students who live north of the highway and take the school bus to SSS are labeled as “courtesy riders” and must pay $250 per student, per year. However, there is no high school that has a French immersion program on the north side of the highway. Because of this, we are forced to either attend a school that is out of catchment to continue with French Immersion or quit the program altogether. This public program is supposed to be free and accessible to all students. Therefore, it is completely unacceptable that students on the north side are paying $250 for a program that is supposedly free, while the students on the south side do not have to pay anything.
Another concern is the unreasonable hour that students are arriving home. School ends at 2:40, but many of us are stuck waiting for the bus until 3:30 every day, which is almost an hour after school has ended. When we do get picked up by the bus, most of us do not arrive home until 4:15 p.m. or later. This means that a large chunk of our time is wasted simply waiting for the bus, which leaves less time for us to be at home, do our homework, or to do any other extracurricular activities.
In the past, the school board has had a budget surplus; this would make it even simpler to switch French Immersion students to “regular riders”, as the board would not have to worry about the lack of funds.
Public Education is a basic right. It is unacceptable for French Immersion students on the north side to be forced to pay for busing or drop out of the program. Many of us have joined and stuck with this program because we have a passion for learning a new language, and we have created connections and long-lasting friendships. It is not right that we have to pay $250 for busing just because the only school that offers French Immersion happens to be on the other side of town. We should at least be given the same services as the rest of the students who reside south of the highway. In light of the upcoming school board trustee election, students hope that this issue can be resolved by the future board members of our school district.