Archive for Friday, March 14, 2014

Baldwin school board increases transportation fee

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

March 14, 2014

The Baldwin school board started dealing with the district’s 2014-2015 budget pinch by passing on some of its transportation fees to in-town student bus riders and reducing teacher positions through attrition.

The board began discussing last month possible fee increases, budget reallocations and cuts on news that Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget would mean only $30,000 more in state aid for the district next year.

Monday, the board unanimously approved increasing the transportation fee it created last summer as it prepared the budget for the current school year.

The charge applies only to those students who live within 2.5 miles of the school they attend. The state reimburses the district for busing students who live farther than that distance from their schools.

The board's decision will raise the fee from $75 to $100 a year for those students not receiving free or reduced lunches. Students receiving meals at a reduced rate will be charged a $50 transportation fee annually and those receiving free lunches a $250-a-year rate. Students receiving free lunches were not charged the fee this year.

The fee increase is expected to produce $6,000 to $8,000 of revenue for the district, but that amount will remain unknown until it is learned how many students ride buses, Dorathy said.

Even with the increase, the district’s fee will be half what other districts in the area are charging for in-town busing, Dorathy said.

On the personnel front, the board agreed not to hire replacements for two of the elementary teachers who will retire at the end of the year. The positions of some other retiring teachers could also be left open, but those decisions will be made when the district has more complete enrollment figures and class size estimates for the 2014-2015 school year.

The meeting and a March 6 special meeting included executive sessions on personnel. The board announced Monday that adjustments to certified and classified positions could be coming. That could mean elimination of positions, reducing full-time positions to part-time employment, combining duties and other measures, Dorathy said.

As another cost-cutting measure, the board agreed not the renew the district’s $24,000 annual mowing contract with Creekwood Lawn Co. of Lawrence. Because its current contract does not expire until September, Creekwood Lawn will continue to mow district properties this spring and summer.

The district will hire a seasonal employee to help with mowing in the future, Dorathy said.

In other budget decisions, the board agreed not to increase the $40 student activity fee, maintain employee life insurance at the same level and have 360 Energy of Eudora make lighting changes that will save the district utility costs.

In other business, the board:

• Awarded a contract with Premier Contracting of Kansas City, Kan., for $67,000 to replace the roof of the Intermediate School’s gymnasium and commons.

• Approved curriculum standards for physical education and the visual arts.

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