Moffat County School Board proposes budget | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County School Board proposes budget

Ben McCanna

In other news …

At Thursday's special meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved, 6-0, an increase of school lunches and breakfast by 25 cents, bringing the price of lunch to $2.75 for sixth- through 12th-graders and $2.50 for elementary school students, and the price of breakfast to $1.50 for students throughout the district.

• Approved, 6-0, a negotiations agreement between the Moffat County Education Association and the school board negotiation teams.

— Board member Trish Snyder was absent.

Jo Ann Baxter, Moffat County School Board president, began Thursday's public hearing on the proposed budget with an explanation.

Baxter said the special meeting was a forum for community members to address concerns about the budget for the 2011-12 school year.

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This year, after facing $2.2 million in cuts from the state, the school district has proposed reductions for full-time equivalents, transportation and more.

Few community members attended the meeting.

After Baxter's introduction, Moffat County resident Stanley Peroulis rose to his feet and asked the school board to reconsider cuts to the transportation budget.

"I think that's the wrong move to make," he said. "It's a small-time cut compared to some top heavy items that are in the school district at this point in time."

Rural parents could be asked to drive their children to bus pickup spots closer to town.

Peroulis lives 25 miles north of Craig. He said "splitting the difference" runs counter to tradition.

"The rural bus routes … were put in motion because of the rural people," he said. "They weren't put in for towns.

"When we were in school here — and I've been here my whole life — when we were in school, we'd walk eight or nine blocks just to go eat lunch and come back (to school)."

Peroulis said he has studied bus routes and talked to drivers.

"There are kids getting a ride for four blocks," he said. "I think that's a waste."

Board member Tony St. John asked if Peroulis was concerned about a particular route.

Peroulis said he's concerned about students who live in rural areas. He said waiting at a bus stop far from home can be dangerous, particularly during cold months.

"I think you've got to respect winters in this community," he said.

Peroulis said ultimately he is willing to make the sacrifice of meeting the bus at a designated location.

"But, I want to know what you people are doing to take a sacrifice, also," he said.

Peroulis said the hiring of a new assistant superintendent doesn't signal a willingness by the school district to sacrifice, particularly when so few school districts on the Western Slope employ assistant superintendents.

"I know it's too late because you've already hired him, but I think you need to take a step back and start cutting some of the top heavy stuff and let these little things go because the top stuff is what costs us the most money," he said.

Baxter said there have been times when the school district has operated without an assistant superintendent, and those times were difficult.

She added that other school districts employ directors to do the work of both superintendents and assistants.

"I would ask you to compare (the new assistant superintendent) salary with some of the directors in Grand Junction," Baxter said.

Superintendent Joe Petrone said the district was also concerned about student safety.

"The safety of pick-up and drop-off locations for buses is of significant importance, and we weighed that in every single one of the decisions we made with respect to the routes," he said.

Finance director Mark Rydberg said the cost of picking up in-town students is negligible. The majority of in-town pickups are from buses that originate from out-of-town routes.

Baxter thanked Peroulis for bringing his concerns to the meeting.

"I would think the board would agree that we'll ask the administration to take another look at the transportation situation, where we're at with that and how we might lessen the burden on our rural folks," she said. "But, we have made substantial budget cuts."

The budget proposal will be voted on at the board's next regular meeting June 30.

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In other news …

At Thursday’s special meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved, 6-0, an increase of school lunches and breakfast by 25 cents, bringing the price of lunch to $2.75 for sixth- through 12th-graders and $2.50 for elementary school students, and the price of breakfast to $1.50 for students throughout the district.

• Approved, 6-0, a negotiations agreement between the Moffat County Education Association and the school board negotiation teams.

— Board member Trish Snyder was absent.

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