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Parent anger at bus fee hike

Bus travel fee hikes of up to $800 per child have angered parents.

February 27, 2013 4:34am

Newly introduced school bus travel fees of up to $800 per child have angered Kyabram and district parents.

Students who bypass one school to attend another school of like are now required to pay to travel on a bus.

Parents received letters from the convening school — Kyabram P-12 College — in January informing them of the outcome of a review of bus services at Kyabram undertaken by Public Transport Victoria last year.

The review revealed there were 113 students using public transport for free when they were not entitled to.

The letter came as shock to Stanhope mother-of-two Rachel O’Brien who returned from a family holiday in Queensland to learn she must pay almost $1600 for her two sons to travel on a bus to Kyabram P-12 College.

Mrs O’Brien said the school informed her last year that she would not be billed for the travel after initially paying for her eldest son to travel on the bus the first year of high school.

“I thought I’d won the lottery,” she said.

“Now I’ve got no idea how I’ll be able to come up with the funds.

“My children catch the bus to what I think is the most decent school closest to me which is located 16km from home in Stanhope,” Mrs O’Brien said.

“My eldest son chose the school, and he’s really happy there.

“I don’t know how we’re going to come up with the money.”

Kim Andrews, whose children catch the bus at the same stop, said she too was unhappy with the situation.

“This is just another way of extracting more money from already struggling families trying to provide an education for their children,” she said.

“Obviously the free education tag went missing along with the choice of schools we wish to send our children to,” she said.

Jenni Serra’s three sons also travel on the bus to St Augustine’s P-12 College.

She is expected to pay for her youngest son Morrie to use the bus because he is bypassing the nearest Catholic school at Rushworth.

“We have decided to send Morrie to St Augustine’s because we thought it would be easier for his transition into Year 7,” Mrs Serra said.

“I’d like somebody to explain to myself and my husband how sending one child to one school and two to another school in a different town is helping them enjoy their schooling years.”

Kyabram P-12 College principal Stuart Bott said it was the snowball effect he feared most.

“If we lost some families because of this, we may lose teachers, and then who knows what might happen?”

Mr Bott said he invites concerned parents to meet with him to discuss their situation.

He said he could offer a ‘‘solution’’.

He was not prepared to relate to the Free Press just what that solution was.

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