OPDYKE – Opdyke-Belle Rive School District will not have to cut its transportation program, as school officials had previously feared.
The state budget currently on the Governor's desk does not include the funding cuts that would have taken over $130,000 away from Opdyke-Belle Rive. For that reason, the district does not plan on eliminating one of their buses, said Debra Blakey, principal of the Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School.
“We'll continue transportation the way we're doing it now,” Blakey said. “At one point, as we were brainstorming ideas (for reducing) the budget, cutting a bus was one idea. Being fiscally responsible, you try to look at all areas without cutting quality education.”
Transportation funding was discussed at the June 17 Opdyke-Belle Rive CCSD #5 Board of Education meeting.
Earlier this year, school officials were told by senators that Opdyke's education funding would be reduced to 82 percent of its current level and that transportation funding would be cut to 19 percent.
“The combination of those two would have been a little over $130,000 that we'd lose,” Blakey said. “For a district our size, that's a lot of money.”
Recently, however, those cuts were restored in the state budget. The district is still only being funded at 89 percent of what the state is mandated to provide. Without the added cuts, though, the district should be able to carry on with its transportation program.
“If the current budget on the Governor's desk is approved, everything will continue exactly as it has been with transportation,” said Henry “Buster” Leeck, school board president.
One of the cost-cutting ideas that had been considered by school officials was to have designated areas to pick up students rather than offering door-to-door bus service.
“Our district is wide. We are very scattered,” Leeck said.