A change in the time school lets out means students at Porter Creek Secondary School can no longer catch the city bus downtown immediately after class. (Mike Thomas/ Yukon News)

Schedule change means Porter Creek students can’t catch city bus

New school hours make it difficult for students to get to downtown jobs

A change in the time school lets out means students at Porter Creek Secondary School can no longer catch the city bus downtown immediately after class, council heard at the Sept. 18 standing committee meeting.

Porter Creek Grade 9 student Aden Horbachewsky, flanked by his mother Jennifer Daniels, spoke as a delegate. The bus, the pair said, arrives at the stop at 3:03 p.m., but school is not dismissed until 3:05 p.m.

Horbachewsky asked council look into tweaking transit schedules so students would be able to catch the bus after class. He had handed around a petition at his school in support of this request, and had so far received 23 signatures, he said.

“Students are either late for after school activities or can’t start their jobs until 4 p.m.,” Daniels said.

The issue arose at the start of this school year, Daniels said. In order to have the school year end earlier this year, the school day was extended by a few minutes at the beginning and end. This shaves time off gradually, but has resulted in the school dismissal time no long matching up with the municipal bus schedule.

It does not appear that the school board considered the bus schedule or consulted with the transportation department when it was making this decision, she said.

“There was some missed consultation with other agencies,” Coun. Rob Fendrick said.

“I encourage staff to look at what can be done,” said Fendrick. “It’s unfortunate when outer agencies don’t cross-consult.”

Bob Walker, the school council liaison, said changes to the school day schedule affect all high schools in Whitehorse, although not all schools necessarily get out at the same time. This school year has 174 days in it, which requires five hours and 25 minutes of instructional time each day, which is why the minutes were added in.

The education department does have someone who works as a co-ordinator for student transport, focusing mainly on the school buses but who regularly meets with city transit officials, Walker said. He isn’t sure if the conflict with the city transit schedule was specifically discussed between the two agencies.

The primary concern of the department is not to co-ordinate with the city bus schedule, but to make sure its own buses properly serve students, he said. The school bus system is comprised of 41 routes that serve 2,050 students and 14 schools.

“It’s a bit of a complex puzzle to sort out,” he said.

Walker said he didn’t really know what solution to offer for students in Porter Creek currently missing the city bus.

“Quite honestly, I don’t know what to suggest to these students,” he said.

Councillors were uncertain what they could immediately do about the problem.

“We will certainly ask the administration to come forward and see what can be done,” said Coun. Dan Boyd.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com