Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 7, 2013

Large school corporations look at transportation cuts to help cope with property tax caps



Looking at options

Woodworth said both Goshen and Concord have convened special study committees tasked with looking at exactly what options the corporations have for making cuts with the least amount of negative fallout.

For Goshen, which currently already has a walk zone of one mile, Woodworth said the corporation may need to look at expanding that out farther, though she does not feel that would be in the best interest of the students.

Stubbs, on the other hand, noted that Concord is a district made up of very few sidewalks, rendering the idea of walk zones moot.

“We’re not a walk zone school district,” Stubbs said. “We don’t have sidewalks from one neighborhood to the school, so basically everything is picked up by buses. That’s why making cuts to transportation is such a challenge, because there’s not a whole lot of play in it. We can have fewer buses, but it’s going to take longer to do all the routes, we’ve got to change our schedules for our days. ... It can create a huge mess.”

Woodworth said other options include requiring buses to only make one stop per subdivision, rather than stopping at every couple of houses. School field trips and busing to extracurricular activities could also be on the chopping block if alternate forms of funding are not found, she said.

“Well try to be creative and look at everything possible,” Woodworth said, “but even with all of those things, we’re still only at about $400,000 in savings. That’s not even close to the $1.5 million we need to save.”

As for Capital Projects, GCS Business Manager Jerry Hawkins said the corporation has already been forced to hold off on some repairs and building maintenance projects in order to keep the transportation fund flush, though with the corporations now being forced to pro-rate their funds, that’s no longer an option. The result, he said, is a capital projects fund that is already short on funds and getting shorter.

To get by for now, Hawkins said the corporation has the option of poaching from the general fund, which pays for things like teacher salaries, and the rainy day fund to pick up some of the slack in the transportation and capital projects funds, but added that such poaching can only go on for so long before those funds are bled dry as well.

“When you look at CPF, we’ve delayed and delayed and delayed, and there comes a time when your buildings are going to have issues,” Hawkins said. “You’ve got a roof that leaks and you’re out of money and you can’t do the things you need to do. It’s a real issue.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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