The Durango School District 9-R bus driver shortage is going to lead to some rolling route cancellations come January.
At the Durango School District 9-R Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Dan Snowberger said the district is down eight drivers. While one is in training, and four are in the pipeline, it will be some time until they are on the road.
“We have to get our mechanics off the road and into the garage,” he said. “Our goal is that parents will have time to arrange carpools.“
Schedules will go out to families by the end of the week, he said.
“We learned how important transportation is (Monday),” Snowberger said. “We had to cancel some middle school and high school routes, and we had a lot of students who did not have rides.”
In recent months, the 9-R board has been talking about 2021 graduation standards, a new charter school and numerous issues, but on Tuesday night, the bulk of the conversation focused on finances.
The board began the job of evaluating programs as it prepares to look at cuts to achieve a balanced budget for the 2016-2017 school year.
“Just because we’re discussing these programs doesn’t mean we’re planning on cutting them,” Board President Andy Burns said. “We’ve asked staff to provide an analysis of these different programs as we start working on next year’s budget.”
While no one in the district is recommending the elimination of full-day kindergarten, Snowberger said, the board needs to understand that because the state recompenses the district for only five-eighths of a day, it costs the district an additional $1.1 million.
“There are very few districts in the state that don’t offer full-time kindergarten,” Snowberger said. “But some are charging, and some are offering the option to choose either full-time or half-time.”
The other programs reviewed included instructional leadership training for teachers and staff, getting after-school enrichment to a break-even point, and the cost of transportation.
“We are not required by the state to provide transportation,” Snowberger said, adding that the district receives only about $300,00 from the state, and pays the remaining $1 million. “We believe strongly that this is a service our district cannot live without. You can’t educate kids if you can’t get them to school.”
The board approved the audit for the 2014-2015 school year on Tuesday.
For the first time this year, for school districts and other public institutions, the unfunded Public Employee Retirement Association will now show up as a liability on the institutions’ balance sheet. That will be resolved over time, the auditors said, in part between the district making higher contributions and, possibly, raising retirement age. It should not impact the general operating expenses, they said, but it may be a surprise for people at first glance.