GOSHEN — Recommendations for cuts to Goshen Community Schools busing program were given to the Goshen School Board Monday night.
A transportation study group investigated options to cut more than $1 million from the transportation budget, due to Indiana's circuit breaker tax caps. The tax caps limit the amount of property taxes homeowners and businesses pay.
Assistant Superintendent Bob Evans gave the following recommendations for the 2013-2014 school year to school board members and represents about $350,000 in savings:
• Eliminate wait times at stops. Drivers will no longer be expected to honk horns or wait on students to come out of their homes.
• Not funding field trips next year. Each school or organization will need to find transportation funding for field trips or after-school events. This will likely result in a reduction of those runs.
• Expand the walk zones for several schools.
• Utilize hubs, where students will walk a block or two and meet at one place. This is expected to reduce the amount of stopss.
• Possibly add crossing guards at a couple locations when/if walk zones are expanded.
• Students will be required to attend their neighborhood schools so “Choice” routes will be eliminated. Parents could still make that choice but provide their own transportation.
• Music and athletic trips would be 100 percent paid by music and athletics.
• Mid-day runs for reduced schedules at Goshen High School and Goshen Middle School will likely be eliminated.
• Daily bell schedules will change to increase instructional time. This will also permit bus routes to run more efficiently. Elementary schools will go from 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., GMS will go from 8:35 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and GHS will go from 8:25 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
“The result of these changes could mean a reduction of four to five drivers,” Evans said. “These changes may not match the money needed to make the fund solvent. The reality won’t address the shortfalls of this year or the shortfalls of next year.”
School Board President Jane Troup has concerns about the hubs for elementary students.
“I have a major concern with the elementary students because of darkness and kindergartners and first-graders walking a block away,” Troup said. “I struggle with the safety of our students vs. the funding issue. The public doesn’t really understand the tax caps and how it affects school boards and cities. It’s putting us in the positions to go out and ask for more monies.”
School board member Catherine Cripe said, “The state has asked us to cut everything that affects the safety of children from transportation to capital projects.”
Goshen High School seniors are receiving six tickets for Commencement Sunday, June 9.
Principal Barry Younghans told school board members Monday the doors will open at 12:30 p.m. and people will enter the gym through doors M and B with their tickets in hand and door I will be for handicapped individuals only.
“All other doors will be locked. There will be additional parking across the street,” Younghans said. “The police presence will be greater because it’s a change and people are just used to walking in. This is our biggest graduating class ever (405 students).”
The principal said tickets can be picked up at the office from 5 to 7 p.m. today (Tuesday), 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, “if you don’t trust your kid to pick up their tickets.”
“Kids are signing and presenting their ID for the tickets,” Younghans said. “If they lose their tickets, they need to come to us right away. We will work something out.”
In other business, Food Service Director Sherry Faulkner said the Summer Foods Program begins June 3 for children 18 years-old and younger in Goshen.
“Eat with us. It’s free,” Faulkner said. “The program will be available at Rogers Park and Roxbury Park again. We average about 500 students alone in the parks. Some sites have only 25 to 30 kids but they depend on us.”