Archive for Thursday, February 12, 2009

School board approves driver’s education fee increase

February 12, 2009

Learning to drive is going to cost a bit more this summer.

On Monday, the Baldwin School Board approved an increase in driver’s education fees. The price jumped to $250 from $160 last year.

Supt. Paul Dorathy is confident the new fee will cover most of the district’s costs for the program.

“The board wants to cover costs, but at the same time, we don’t want to take such a significant jump in one year’s time,” Dorathy said. “The $250 covers our direct costs. There are some indirect costs that won’t cover. It might have taken $300 to cover every single cost involved with driver’s education.”

Board President Alison Bauer asked board members what their feelings were about the cost increase. Board Member Blaine Cone was content with setting the fee at $250.

“I’d be happy going with the $250, knowing that we would cover costs for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches,” she said.

The driver’s education cost reduction is a result of state funding cuts. According to Dorathy, the state transferred $1.7 million out of driver’s education fund and into its general fund. That caused a reduction from $108 to $38 in the district’s funding per student.

To offset that reduction, many districts around the state are increasing their fees. According to a report Monday night, Gardner-Edgerton is considering a $265 fee, Ottawa’s considering a $200 fee and Paola is considering a $400 fee. The Lawrence school district increased its fee to $225 Monday.

Board members asked long-time driver’s education instructor Mike Curran about his feelings on the cost increase.

“I think there are a lot of parents out there that say they will pay the money to get someone else to teach their children to drive,” Curran said. “They will ride with them in Baldwin, but they’d rather have someone else ride with their children on the highway, in someone else’s vehicle, mind you.”

In other news Monday, the school board gave Dorathy the go-ahead to pursue annexation of district property. The Baldwin High School soccer field, north of the school, is now in county property. If the annexation is approved, it will be within the city limits.

The annexation will help the district with its bond issue projects north of BHS, which includes a practice track. DLR architects told Dorathy the annexation would shorten the design and planning stage, because they would only be dealing with one entity.

“The board told me to proceed with the annexation of the property,” Dorathy said. “I do need to speak with city officials about that, because there are some concerns the board has with it.”

The school board will hold a special meeting to discuss budget cuts and reallocations, along with the bond issue and the selling of the bonds. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at the District Office.

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