March 16, 2011
Special education, transportation reductions approved at March 16 budget workshop
Athletics, extracurriculars to be maintained
On Wednesday, March 16, the Board of Education narrowed the $4 million budget gap by tentatively approving nearly $500,000 in reductions, mostly in special education.
The reductions approved at the workshop also included extending the maximum bus ride time in-district by about 15 minutes in exchange for $60,000 in savings. The change is expected to only affect a small percentage of students.
The Board tentatively agreed to maintain all current athletic offerings next year. Athletics and co-curricular activities make up less than 1 percent of the total budget, and have been impacted by the budget cuts of the last few years.
Student ride times
The change in student ride times would increase the maximum student ride time from about 45 minutes currently to 60 minutes. It would save about $60,000 through the elimination of three bus routes, which would be absorbed by other runs.
This means that the change will only impact a fraction of all student riders — likely those that board first or depart last on the small number of affected routes.
Currently less than 4 percent of students have a ride time around the current maximum of 45 minutes, according to Transportation Department figures. Under the change, the department estimates that this trend will continue, with the smallest percentage of ride times extending to the new maximum of 60 minutes.
The department projects that the average ride will increase from 34 minutes to 45 minutes.
The Board had previously tabled this issue, but revisited it in light of the information on student ride times and trends.
The Board enacted a series of reductions totaling $430,080 in the Pupil Personnel Services/Special Education Department. They are: 3.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) special education teaching positions; 2.0 FTE speech therapist positions; 0.4 FTE school psychologist position; and 1.0 FTE social worker position.
Director of Pupil Personnel Services Rita Levay said the department worked hard to identify cuts that would impact students as little as possible, indicating that they could largely be achieved through improved scheduling, some larger groups for speech improvement, and leaving some vacancies created by retirements unfilled.
"Our goal was to maintain the high quality of our program, but continue to be as cost effective as we can," Levay said.
Athletics & Extracurriculars
In total, all athletics, including transportation; co-curricular activities, including music and theater; and student clubs cost about $790,000, or 0.87 percent of the district's general fund budget.
More than 50 percent of BCHS students participate in one more sports, according to Principal Charles Abba. This percentage grows when it includes theater productions, music groups and student clubs.
Superintendent Michael Tebbano said that earlier in the budget planning process, the administration had planned some reductions in these areas. It reconsidered this in light of the relatively small expenditure level, and thus potential savings, compared to the student benefit.
Superintendent Michael Tebbano said that earlier in the budget planning process, the administration had planned some reductions in these areas. It reconsidered this in light of the relatively small expenditure compared to the student benefit and the relatively small potential savings in relation to a $4 million budget gap.
"I began to wonder are we doing our students an injustice by peeling away athletics and co-curricular activities like theater and music and the club activities like Student Senate and the class activities," he said. "There's a direct correlation with students being involved in athletics and being involved in co-curricular activities and the success they have with their studies."
The Board supported the proposal to maintain current athletic and co-curricular offerings next year, at this point in the budget process.
The Board also tentatively approved the restoration of night games, with the extra cost to be funded through ticket sales. Booster groups have agreed to offset any cost that is not recouped through gate receipts.
The budget process continues on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at BCMS. The workshop will cover the K-12 instructional program. A decision on the facilities study is also expected that evening.