A LOW student uptake of a remote town's school bus service has spawned the removal of the service by the end of this year, causing challenges for local families.
The Chinta bus service that provides students at the Ceduna Area School a means to get to and from school will be withdrawn at the end of 2021 and an SA Department of Education spokesperson said the decision was made in consultation with the school principal, education director and governing council.
"Families impacted have been communicated to about their options. In this instance the payment of a travelling allowance is more appropriate means of providing transport rather than providing a bus service," they said.
As necessary, parents were consulted with about the decision according to the spokesperson and it was reiterated to parents that the nearby Koonibba bus route would remain unchanged, at this time.
A school bus service may be established where at least 10 school age students live five kilometres or more by the shortest most practicable route from the nearest appropriate government school or school bus service provided by the department.
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But, the majority of students must live 8km or more away and although a minimum of 10 students is specified, a higher number is usually required to allow for movement in population and the cost of operating bus services.
The Department reviews the viability of each bus run as required and unfortunately, the Chinta bus route was no longer viable.
A "dwindling" local population was the main cause according to Ceduna farmer and school bus committee member Anthony Nicholls who's son accesses the school bus and although rural decline was not a new issue, he said it still had a large impact on the community.
"Rural communities need these services more than most people could understand - in most instances children cannot walk to school and many come from farming families with parents without a lot of other options."
Just under a month ago, parents of students that accessed the service were notified by CAS staff that the bus route would be removed in 2022 and families would receive $20 a day for each child from the department to cover travel costs.
"My wife is a nurse and works irregular shifts and I am a farmer, there are going to be more times than not when we cannot do the 60km a day commute to school.
"We suggested combining multiple bus routes to help boost student numbers and still offer a point on each side of town for kids to be picked up from but it was not explored by the department at all."
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