BOE wrestles with budget cuts

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:44

    SPARTA — The board is still discussing how the council’s $568k cut from the district’s budget will affect proposed programs. Transportation officials are looking at the possibility of staggering the high school and middle school start times if it can be done within the existing transportation budget. There is no word yet on whether or not it will be possible to reduce the high school student activity fees. Decisions will be announced at the next regular board meeting, which has been changed to Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Sparta Middle School. Last week of school schedule change The board announced a schedule change for the last week of school. June 10, 13, and 14 will be a half day for Sparta High School and Sparta Middle School students, while Helen Morgan and Alpine schools will go a full day. June 15, 16, and 17 will be a half day for all students. Traditionally, all schools had half days for the last three days, while the high school had half days for their whole five-day exam schedule. Because the high school and middle schools are on the same schedule this year, and because there are fewer buses and bus routes due to the subscription busing program, all schools were scheduled to go full days until the last day of school, according to the district calendar. However, high school administrators and staff were concerned about keeping students occupied and on campus when their exams are finished, since they are accustomed to leaving after their exams. If students leave school without permission when school is officially in session, the district is still responsible if something happens to them outside of school. By keeping the half-day schedule for the high school, this problem is avoided. Officials said because of the fewer buses, it would cost the district an extra $46,800 to run the 39 high school and middle school bus routes, at $400 per route, twice per day to give high school students a half day and allow middle school students to stay a full day for three days. To give both schools a half day for three days will cost the district $9,600, saving a total of $37,000.