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Frequently Asked Questions

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My child isn't eligible for transportation. I would like courtesy transportation but I’m not sure how to apply.

Transportation is provided when the walking distance is longer than the following:

  • Kindergarten 1 km
  • Grades 1 – 8 1.6 kms
  • Secondary 3.2 kms

You can apply for courtesy transportation by filling out an application and submitting it to the school principal. The principal will review the application and consult with HWSTS about bus loading and routing information. If the application is approved, your school will contact you with all the information related to the stop location, stop times, bus route information and when the service will start.

I applied for courtesy transportation but the school told me I need to wait. When will I find out if my child has a seat on the bus?

Decisions about courtesy transportation aren’t made until after eligible ridership has stabilized. Typically, HWSTS will start the courtesy seat process in late September/early October but final approvals and notifications may not be issued until November.

My child wasn’t granted courtesy transportation. What can I do?

Courtesy transportation is based on available space on a bus. The decision is made by the principal in conjunction with HWSTS according to the following parameters:

  • There is available space on an existing route
  • The student uses an existing stop location
  • Transportation is intended for a ride to/from school only

If the issue can’t be resolved, please refer to Addressing Concerns @ HWDSB.

My child received courtesy transportation last year but wasn’t given a seat this year. Why not?

Courtesy transportation is always based on available space on a bus. Space on a bus will differ from year to year based upon the number of eligible riders. Courtesy riders are not guaranteed transportation from one year to the next. Permission to ride the bus is granted for no longer than the remainder of the current year and can be withdrawn at any time if the seat is needed for an eligible student. Families must apply for courtesy transportation every year.

The location of my child’s bus stop is not safe. How can I change the stop?

Please contact HWSTS at 905.523.2318 to make the request. The stop location will be reviewed by a Transportation Officer and a decision made which may or may not result in a location change. Due to the volume of requests received in September, stop locations will be reviewed in October. The types of concerns typically raised by parents are no sidewalks, traffic speed, no posted school zone signs, no cross walks, no crossing guards, and no railroad crossing signs and/or construction. These potential concerns are under the jurisdiction of the municipality and HWSTS may not consider these types of situations as safety concerns in and of themselves. If you have requested a stop location change, please also notify the principal as this may be a concern for multiple families.

My child is in French Immersion and their stop is far away from our house. How does my child get safely to and from the bus stop?

French Immersion transportation is available for students as follows:

  • Grades 1 – 6 Black and yellow buses
  • Grades 7 – 8 HSR (unless there is an existing route to accommodate students)
  • Secondary HSR (unless the route is longer than 60 minutes one way)

French Immersion transportation is by community stop. A community stop is a centrally-located stop for students and may not be within walking distance of a student’s home.

I have children in two different schools and the bus timing conflicts. How can I safely pick up both children?

We understand timing can be difficult for parents with children attending different schools. Only parents/guardians of kindergarten students are required to accompany and remain with their child until they are picked up by the

transportation vehicle. If this is an issue for your family, please contact the superintendent to brainstorm alternate solutions such as before and after school care.

My grade one daughter was let off the bus and I wasn’t there to pick her up. How can I be sure this doesn’t happen again?

Only parents/guardians of kindergarten students are required to accompany and remain with their child until they are picked up by the transportation vehicle. No kindergarten student will be left unattended at a pick up point. Parents/guardians are required to be on time to pick up their kindergarten child. Transporting your child to and from school is a partnership between parents and HWDSB. Please refer to HWSTS Procedures for Parents and Guardians for more information.

My child missed their bus stop. How can I be sure the bus driver knows where he gets off?

Please call HWSTS at 905.523.2318 to make sure your bus driver has the correct stop for your child. If your child misses her stop, then the driver will take her back to school and the office will contact you to make alternate arrangements to pick her up.

My child’s bus has been late every day. What can I do about it?

HWSTS transports about 28,000 students every day. Buses often service several different routes, so it takes a few weeks for the bus to settle into a route. Please allow some flexibility in route times during the first few weeks in September. If the problem persists, please contact HWSTS at 905.523.2318.

My child is in a combined (split) grade class. What is the impact of combined grade classes on student achievement?

Combined grade classes group children from two or more consecutive grades in one classroom. This type of classroom is very common on both a global and local scale. In Ontario, approximately 21 per cent of classes fall into this category.

Principals and teachers spend a lot of time deciding on the best placement for your child based on learning styles, social skills, academic strengths and needs as well as many other factors.

Several studies have found that students in combined classes do just as well as students in single-grade classes. In fact, some students actually do better in language and reading. Combined grades brochure.

My child doesn’t like her teacher. Can I have her moved?

Principals and teachers spend a lot of time deciding on the best placement for your child based on learning styles, social skills, academic strengths and needs as well as many other factors. Please give your child four to six weeks to settle into the new routine. If you continue to have concerns, connect with your child’s principal.

My child isn’t with his friends and wants to change classes. How can I have him moved to another class?

Principals and teachers spend a lot of time deciding on the best placement for your child based on learning styles, social skills, academic strengths and needs as well as many other factors. Please give your child four to six weeks to settle into the new routine and make new friends. You may want to consult with your child’s teacher to discuss strategies to help your child make new friends.

My child’s class has over 30 students, will that number change?

In general, on a board-wide basis, 90% of primary classes (1-3) must have 20 or fewer students, and only 10% may have up to 23. This is a board-wide average, which means some classes may have more or less than the average. Kindergarten classes typically have 30 students with on teacher and one ECE.

Principals review class sizes during the first few weeks of school. Once all registrations are processed, classes may be reorganized to ensure they meet the requirements. Parents are notified by the end of September to any changes to their child’s class.

I need childcare after school. How can I access before and after school care?

Before and after childcare is available in many of our schools through third-party providers. To find out if your school offers childcare, please visit our child care page. For information on availability and cost, contact the childcare provider listed for your school.

I applied for out-of-catchment for my child, when will I know whether my child has a spot in the school?

HWDSB has attendance boundaries for each of our schools. All students are directed to attend their home school allowing us to make the most effective use of schools and staff. In some cases, families want their child to attend a school that is not their “home school”. Students attending an out-of-catchment (OOC) school are not eligible for transportation services.

Schools are either open or closed to Out-of-Catchment. You can find out which schools by going to our out-of- catchment page.

Principals review class sizes during the first few weeks of school. Once a principal is confident their in-catchment requests are complete, they will consult with their area Superintendent about the possibility of granting an OOC request. An OOC request looks at the availability of space throughout the student’s time at the school, impact on the school facility as well as the impact on staffing. Principals will inform parents by late September.

The parking lot at my child’s school is chaos in the morning and afternoon. How can I be sure it is safe?

It is important that parents and community members abide by all posted parking and by-law signs when dropping/picking their child up from school. Principals will be working with their school community to remind everyone about safe procedures around pick up and drop off times.

How early can I drop my child off at school in the morning?

Playground supervision begins 15 minutes before the start of school and is provided for15 minutes after dismissal time. If parents require supervision before and after the school day, please visit our childcare webpage for more information.

My child lives with me. How can I be sure the school doesn’t let my former spouse pick up our child?

It is essential that the school be aware of any special custody arrangements. It is assumed that either parent, whether living together or not, has the right to pick up their child. If this is not the case, written legal documentation must be given to the office and filed in the child’s Ontario Student Record (OSR). Guide for Separated Parents/Guardians

My child needs an Educational Assistant (EA), how can I access this support?

Educational assistants are one resource that is allocated to schools to assist in meeting the diverse needs of students. The varied needs at each school are reviewed and EA allocations are determined based on need and available resources. If you feel your child requires additional support, please communicate with the principal. The principal will determine the support that may be provided to meet your child’s needs.

If you continue to have concerns about the support after speaking to your child’s teacher, school special education team and principal, please communicate with your school Superintendent.

I believe my child needs extra assistance, how do I get access to additional resource time?

If you feel your child requires additional support, speak with your child’s teacher to ensure they are aware of your child’s needs. After speaking with your child’s teacher, and you still have concerns, please connect with the principal to determine how the school can best meet your child’s needs.

If you continue to have concerns about the support after speaking to your child’s teacher, school special education team and principal, please communicate with your school Superintendent.

How does HWDSB use my personal information?

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the Education Act set guidelines that schools and school boards must follow when collecting, using and disclosing students’ personal information.

These Acts give school boards and schools the legal authority to collect personal information for the purpose of planning and delivering educational programs and services which best meet students’ needs, for operating schools and for reporting to the Ministry of Education as required.  Accordingly, HWDSB collects the personal information it needs to fully meet its obligations as a public school board.

Learn more about How We Collect, Use and Disclose Your Personal Information

How are these amounts set?

The rental rates represent the costs to the board to make the space available on an hourly basis. The new rental rates are consistent, fair and transparent. Through the use of Ministry of Education grants, we are able to provide subsidies to non-profit youth and adult groups.

How do I know what my user group category is?

Please refer to the User Group tab for a description of each user group. If you are still unsure, contact the Rental Administrator for assistance.

How long does it take for permit approval?

Permit applications are accepted throughout the year. Your placement will be dependent upon availability.

Permit requests made at the start of the school year will take additional time to process due to volume.

How is it decided who gets the rental?

At times groups are looking to rent the same space at the same time. When this instance happens, the following order of user groups priorities will be used to determine who gets the rental space:

  • Schools and school-related activities always have first priority for use of their respective facilities
  • Partnerships and agreements with Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • Non-Profit Youth Groups with Subsidy
  • Non-Profit Adult Groups with Subsidy
  • Non-Profit No Subsidy
  • Commercial For Profit Groups

In each user category, preference for use of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board facilities is given to groups and organizations whose activities, events, programs, and opportunities are:

  • Supporting or contributing to student achievement and skill building
  • Neighbourhood or community-based and where users are part of the neighbourhoods in which the facility is located to help develop relationships and support neighbourhood community-building
  • Using Board space to provide low or no cost opportunities to participants
  • Sponsored or funded by the Government of Ontario

How will I know when my permit is approved

Your permit will be approved once payment is received and your Certificate of Insurance has been verified.

You will receive a copy of your permit via email.

Be sure to check the dates and times for accuracy.

I am a registered nfp. Do all my uses qualify for subsidy?

Subsidy eligibility is determined annually, based on funding availability.

Recognition as a not-for-profit or charitable organization is not required for subsidy eligibility.  Preference is given to programming that is offered to youth participants that is free or low cost, inclusive and is promoted widely to the local community.

For more information on the Ontario Ministry of Education Community Use of Schools initiative, please visit https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/community/

Am I required to have insurance for my rental?

All permits must have insurance or the permit will not be issued. Your Certificate of Insurance must have a minimum $2 million general liability naming Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board as the additional insured. If you are unable to provide a Certificate of Insurance, you must purchase insurance through HWDSB.

What happens if I don't get the space I requested?

You may not receive the space you requested, depending on demand and the distribution of space. However, staff will continue to work with you to find an alternate location. We endeavour to accommodate all user groups when they are requesting space within our schools.

Are we allowed to use school equipment?

Permit holders are only allowed the use of the tables and chairs as listed on the permit.

No gym equipment other than volleyball, badminton and basketball standards/nets are available for community use. Score clocks may be available to the users, subject to the school procedures, approval and user fees.

A qualified technician must be present when the school’s multi-media equipment is used, and a charge will apply.

School stage crew or Board stage technician must be present when the school sound, lighting and multimedia equipment is being used. Fees apply for these services.

Updated on Thursday, April 19, 2018.
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