Getting the kids to school has become exhausting for one Naramata resident after she says the school bus she was promised before moving to the area was denied.
Bobbi Sloan and her family recently moved out past Naramata and up into the Chute Lake Road area. Sloan says she confirmed with School District 67 that school buses would reach the area.
Located at least 20 minutes from the village, Sloan said the key to moving into the new house for her was making sure the bus would get to her kids.
She said after a couple of weeks of back and forth with the district, they confirmed that the route was in place to pick up her kids at the end of the subdivision.
“We made a large financial commitment to get this house based on that. I phoned them before we removed the conditions. I said ‘I know this won't work if I don't have a bus.’ I made it very clear, probably in like the first phone call that I can't remove conditions until I know that [the district] is going to give me bussing out here.”
Sloan said the district provided the location as well as pick up and drop off times to her, and she paid the school bus fees online.
But on the day she officially signed for the house, Sloan said she was told the district the bus route couldn’t reach her area, as there wasn’t a safe turnaround available.
“I genuinely thought I had busing. Otherwise, I would have stayed in Penticton. I would have never moved out here."
This has led Sloan to have to drive her kids separately to different school bus pick-up locations and before-and-after school programs, equalling out to close to three hours a day in the car.
Sloan said this has started affecting her work and her kids' lives.
“I've used all my vacation time, all my available leave until the end of April,” she said. “My children are suffering. My mental health over this is a nightmare.”
“My boys don't even want to go to school, because they have to get up by 5:30 a.m. now and have to go to childcare.”
Sloan said she tried to find a way for it to work by offering multiple locations for a pick-up, somewhere in between where it currently is now and their new residence.
The school board allegedly told her no, maintaining that the area did not have space for a safe turnaround.
“I got a hold of the Ministry of Transportation and they said they will ensure it is safe and AIM Roads would maintain it and make it Class B which is rated for school buses, and still no,” she added.
Sloan said she has been offered a $275 transportation allowance to use towards before-and after-school care to drop off before work.
Castanet reached out to SD67 for comment, who provided a statement that they cannot speak to the details of any specific student matter.
“I would note more generally that when addressing issues of transportation, all aspects of student safety are a priority, and the planning, review and safe implementation of each of our bus routes is a critical component of our district team’s work," the statement read.
Being new to the area, Sloan hasn’t been able to connect with anyone for carpools or other arrangements.
“I want the bus they promised us. That's all I want. I don't want their money, I don't want before-school care.”