Cuts to sailings between Skidegate and Sandspit are having an impact on school hours and bus schedules on Haida Gwaii.

Ferry cuts impacting school on Haida GWaii

The Haida Gwaii School District (SD50) is frustrated the provincial government and BC Ferries didn't wait until September to implement cuts.

The Haida Gwaii School District (SD50) is frustrated the provincial government and BC Ferries didn’t wait until September to implement schedule changes for the Kwuna.

Angus Wilson, superintendent of the Haida Gwaii School District, said schedule modifications effective April 28 are forcing the district to rework its busing timetable and shorten the school day at Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary in Skidegate mid-school year.

“We’ve had to shift our bus schedule up by about five minutes, meaning the elementary school in Skidegate has to finish five minutes earlier every day so the bus can get to the high school… and back to the ferry landing before it goes,” he said.

Wilson said the loss of later Kwuna sailings will prevent parents of Sandspit students and district staff from holding meetings, as the principal of Agnes L. Mathers Elementary doesn’t live in the community and is also part-time vice-principal of Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary in Skidegate and teaches classes every day.

“For her to attend a meeting with parents in Sandspit, she would have to spend the night,” said Wilson, adding it would also be difficult for himself and members of the board.

Additionally, Sandspit students will be hindered from taking part in after-school activities like sports teams, cultural events or clubs.

“We have a reading club that’s starting in a few weeks time and working out how to get the kids from Sandspit to it and back has been really tricky,” said Wilson, adding students will either have to shorten their time at the club or stay much longer after it’s over.

With less than 600 students in the Haida Gwaii School District, another area of concern is cuts affecting the Haida Gwaii economy, which in turn could affect the number of students within the district.

“The whole tourism industry is getting [hit] by this, and maybe that means someone closes up shop and moves,” said Wilson, adding each student loss means less funding for the district.

The Haida Gwaii School District highlighted these concerns in a letter it sent to Peter Simpson of BC Ferries at the end of March, with a copy of the letter also being sent to B.C.’s Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

The district had sent a previous letter to Stone in November.