Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 9:06 pm
Mercer County schools seek more revenue, fewer expenses
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By Cathy Decker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mercer County School Board members on Wednesday, for the fourth time, approved placing a 1 percent sales tax resolution on the April 9 ballot.
Board members said the referendum will shore up the district's dwindling financial situation. The board also is looking at how to cut $1 million from its budget.
If the referendum is approved, superintendent Alan Boucher said the district could receive an additional $312,000 per year.
Other savings could come if the district split grade level classes at second/third grade or third/fourth grade levels. Mr. Boucher discussed possibly having four classes, with one being a split grade. The action would eliminate two teachers at two elementary schools.
"There are seven retirements this year," Mr. Boucher said.
The board also is considering setting up the district's five schools as attendance centers.
Mr. Boucher discussed a draft proposal for cutting costs, including a 10 percent reduction in supplies and athletic budgets, charging admission at all sporting events, raising student fees for driver's education and reducing textbook expenses per building, from $43,000 to $5,000.
Board members will meet again at 8 a.m. Saturday at the district office in Aledo to further discuss cost-saving measures.
Bus changes also are being considered to save money. The district now has 22 bus routes – 11 run by the district and the others contracted to Johannes Bus Service. The district currently spends about $1 million per year to transport 600 of its 1,300 students using buses, with two routes dedicated to special education.
Board members have been told moving to a dual transportation system would reduce the number of buses needed. Elementary, high school and junior high students would be picked up and returned home at different times, cutting about a third of the district'stransportation costs, according to a recent study. That study alsoshowed bus trips were used for 580 athletic events and field trips last year.