Manitoba’s largest high school lacking handi-bus

‘Discrimination,’ says mother

By Austin Grabish

Sharon Machinski has one wish she’d like to see come true before her daughter finishes high school.

The Winnipeg mother wants a mobility vehicle to be purchased for students in wheelchairs at Sisler High School.

“I would love to see that van pull up at school I really would,” Machinski said.

Machinski says the absence of a handi-van is leaving students like her daughter Laura, 19, behind.

Machinski said her daughter, who lives with cerebral palsy, has been unable to attend a school work placement that provides social and pre-employment skills due to the absence of a mobility vehicle.

She asked the Winnipeg School Division’s board of trustees Monday night to consider putting $65,000 aside for a three-person mobility van that her daughter and other students at St. John’s High School could use.

Machinski said the division has mobility buses that transport students to and from school, but during the day they are unavailable so a special vehicle must be called, and the service is often unreliable.

Trustee Dean Koshelanyk said he was ‘deeply concerned’ to hear students are missing programming off-campus that’s part of their curriculum.

“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Koshelanyk said.

Machinski said she’s gotten used to seeing her daughter miss out on opportunities other students have, but that still angers her.

“I would call it discrimination,” she said.

Machinski said she sometimes picks Laura directly up from school, so she can attend her work placement, but then “I feel guilty because I know I’m leaving four other students behind.”

Trustee Chris Broughton asked Machinski if she’d support a pilot project addressing the issue, and Machinski nodded and said she absolutely would.

She told a reporter she’s hopeful the board will do something before her daughter ages out of the school system.

“They seem to be very supportive.”

But trustee Mike Babinsky warned board matters take time and a van may not be purchased before September.

“The wheels around here sometimes don’t move as quickly as we’d want them to,” he said.

The board has until March 15 to complete its 2016 / 2017 operating budget.

The $396.5-million budget is calling for a five per cent tax increase from property owners, which is equivalent to roughly $62 for a home valued at $203,900.

austin.grabish@gmail.com

Twitter: @AustinGrabish

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