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Cutbacks a threat to free school transport

Parents may start having to pay their children's bus transport to school, it was reported last night.

It is understood to be part of a package of measures currently being considered by the Education Authority (EA).

The body which administers schools and other educational institutions is facing massive budget cuts.

It must make savings of about £45m in 2016/17, and a further £50m in 2017/18 and £37m in 2018/19.

Currently, primary school pupils get free transport if they live more than two miles from their school, while post-primary children get free transport if they live more than three miles from school.

For post-primary pupils the eligible distance is three miles.

The EA's chief executive Gavin Boyd told the BBC that it "could not continue to do all of the same things in all of the same ways as we have done in the past".

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It was also reported that he said the EA would launch a consultation on the plans before any changes are introduced.

However, the charges could come into force from as soon as the beginning of the new school year, in September.

The EA provides services to schools including transport, meals, support for special needs, school maintenance and ICT.

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