Travelling to school will soon cost more than annual enrolments after a decision by principals to make parents of out-of-area students pay between $480 and $1,240 per year for bus travel.
The additional cost applies for students who are not enrolled at the school closest to their home.
A spokesman for the VIC Education Department told The Standard that Warrnambool School Network principals decided all new ineligible students – including those commencing Year 7 – must pay the fare.
Parents Jill Gibson and Rachel Sholl were told they must pay the fee because their children are not attending the nearest secondary school – Brauer College – which is five kilometres closer than Warrnambool College, where they’d enrolled their children in for 2016.
Neither was notified when they enrolled their children weeks ago and now plan to hold a public meeting about the issue.
“We have friends with five kids, who live at Orford/Tarrone,” Sholl told The Standard.
“That’s going to cost them $6,000 a year. It’s a lot of money for a state school when the school fees are only about $600 or $700.”
Siblings who are already enrolled are exempt from the additional costs.
In a letter dated September 15, the Warrnambool School Bus Network said the policy had not changed, but would be enforced and that the children of parents who refused to pay might be refused travel.
Previously, some users were not asked to pay fares under an agreement between schools, the spokesman said, adding inconsistent application of student eligibility criteria in the past had resulted in inequitable outcomes for families and schools.