CUPE Local 2020 will have new members driving school buses in Haida Gwaii next school year, as School District 50 has decided not to renew its contract with private company First Student Canada and will instead bring student transportation in house.

According to the Haida Gwaii Observer, the British Columbia Ministry of Education will be providing the District with three new 76-passenger buses and one new 24-passenger bus, with future replacements also covered by the provincial government. Under the new system, Haida Gwaii bus drivers will become district employees and members of CUPE 2020 starting with the 2018-19 school year.

Cost was the main issue driving the board of trustees’ vote on April 3 to bring bussing in house. Without the change, under the District’s private contract bussing for next year would have cost an estimated $605,000 for all student transportation, including field trips. The 2018 annual budget for student transportation is $581,000.

“This really is a win-win for everyone,” said CUPE 2020 President Ken Evans. “The students will have more opportunities for field trips. The District will save $200,000 a year. And, as members of our local, the drivers will earn a living wage.”