The District 833 School Board on Thursday chose not to alter school start times as officials looked to close a nearly $1 million gap in the South Washington County Schools transportation budget.
The board also voted against currently in place, and there will also be no for the coming school year, according to the district’s website.
During Thursday's meeting, board members continually called each of the proposals for changing school start times “Band-aids,” and some advocated for further study of the district’s options to manage the transporation budget.
Once board members—who were split on —decided against making changes, it became clear that the district would not be able to settle the transportation fund balance issue under the remaining cost-savings proposals at the meeting.
Yet they also noted that not managing the transportation budget now might mean further leaning on the general fund in the future, which could result in changes to the student-teacher ratio—increased class sizes.
“We have no other choice, we cannot let this deficit go,” board member Ron Kath said.
Kath also said the district hasn’t engaged the community enough on the topic, drawing applause from residents who attended.
Board member Jim Gelbmann also cautioned the district against “kicking the can down the road” while expressing his faith that staff had for trimming the budget.
Video of the meeting is available through the district's website.
The district is looking to replace buses in its fleet while maintaining the transportation fund balance.
The school board did approve an increase in the funding formula from 4.85 percent to 5 percent of the general education formula.
That amount ($150,000)—in addition to the previously agreed upon transportation department efficiencies in the amount of $100,000—will begin to offset the current deficit in the transportation fund balance, but district officials will continue to pursue other ways to close the remaining transportation budget deficit.
Further details about the decision-making process are available through the district’s Hot Topic page.