Mt. Vernon Register-News

June 22, 2013

Opdyke school won't cut transportation

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — 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.

This spring, letters were sent home to parents asking them how they would feel about such a change. The survey yielded mixed results with one-third of parents responding they would take their children to designated pick-up sites and two-thirds indicating they would not.

Other board actions June 17 included:

n Renaming of the Opdyke Attendance Center to Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School.

n Approval of the district's amended budget for 2012-2013, which is “in the black,” Blakey said.

n Approval of several new hires, including softball coach Fred Mooney, assistant volunteer softball coach Alisha Capps, baseball coach Bill Miller, cross country coach Jacob Boone, paraprofessionals Peggy Manning and Heidi Leuellen, and seasonal paraprofessional Shana Poole.