Tough choices ahead for school district
Once again school board members are faced with hard decisions affecting the education of Box Elder County school students.
After Superintendent Steve Laing presented the most recent financial moves of the state legislature to members at their work session, board members were given a list of possible budget reductions that could be implemented to achieve a 3.5 percent cut from the district budget.
None of the items will be popular, stated Laing, but all could be considered. If closure of one of the five schools in Brigham City is one of the choices, it must be made soon, he continued. If a school were to be closed in Brigham City, the other four schools could easily accommodate the disbursement of students, he said.
Jim Christensen, Director of Facilities Management, presented maintenance and upkeep information about each of the five schools in the city. Bunderson School was built in 1955 and houses approximately 400 students. Mountain View was built in 1960 and has approximately 274 students. Foothill was built in 1962 and has approximately 366 students. Lake View was built in 1962 and has approximately 373 students. Discovery was built in 1995 and has approximately 500 students.
The last choice of a budget cut of increasing the ratio of student to teacher and elimination of some teaching positions should be taken only after every other method has been taken, said Laing.
Other considerations ranged from reducing the number of vehicles in the motor pool, elimination of school group travel beyond 150 mile radius, increase employee insurance participation, reducing hours the district office is open, increase taxes to their legal limit, increase the number of periods in secondary schools from five to six, to closing buildings earlier each day and eliminating public and employee access after-hours and on weekends.
Board member Connie Archibald reminded members of existing Policy 1225 –School Size – Grades K-5, which gives specific instructions as to the number of students that, should be housed in district schools and encouraged the implementation of the policy to the strictest detail.
Board member Jim Fuller asked each member to rank the list of 30 budget reduction suggestions as to acceptability to help in the decision process. This information should be available at the next board meeting.
In other business, the board discussed school fees and the economic stress at this time, encouraging all support groups of clubs and sports activities to recognize financial burdens that may be placed on student members’ families.
The next regular school board meeting will be March 10 at Mountain View Elementary School.