GENESEO — Tuesday the Geneseo School Board voted 5 to 1 to continue with a single school day and not return to the two tiered bus runs. Prior to the vote, there was community input from 9 different speakers. Parents who spoke were in favor of continuing the single bus run while the bus drivers’ representative and the faculty representative spoke in favor of returning to the two tier bus schedule. The issues raised in these community presentations included:
• Increased child care costs under the two tiered bus schedule;
• Children would not be more tired under the single bus run schedule versus the two tiered schedule. A number of concerns have been raised that the one run schedule has led to children being more tired at school;
• The increase in cost to return to the two tier schedule was not justified. It was projected that the two tier system would increase cost by $100,000 in the first year and be approximately a $12,000 to $20,000 cost increase in future years;
• The faculty representative argued that the single run schedule prevented faculty, particularly in the elementary school, from having time to collaborate on programming and children’s achievement which is particularly significant at this time as so many curriculum changes are being implemented. She also expressed frustration and regret that this has become a divisive issue within the school community and did not save the district much money.
• Opponents of the single run schedule also pointed out the significant role bus drivers play in the safety of the children. Bus drivers have lost 50% of their pay since the change and it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain qualified bus drivers.
The Board discussed some compromises which included providing one day a month where the school day would be shortened to allow for the faculty to collaborate on programming. There was also discussion of modifying the two tier bus schedule to ameliorate some of the parents concerns. The recruitment and retention of bus drivers could also be addressed through higher pay. A number of Board Members voted in support of the single run schedule with the proviso that providing a one day a month shortened school day be implemented next year to partially address the faculties’ issues.
The School Board also reviewed the status of the 2013 -14 budget. Based on current State Aid projections which may change when the State Budget is finalized, the Board is looking at a $62,000 shortfall in the current projected budget. This shortfall could be offset by utilizing reserves, further cuts in the school operations, increase the tax levy above 2%, and/or a potential increase in state aid that may come from the final state budget. Superintendent Tim Hayes projected that there may be a small increase in State Aid but would be very surprised if the increase covered the entire $62,000 shortfall. The Board will continue to address the Budget issues at their April 9th meeting. The final proposed budget will be voted on by the Board at their April 16th meeting with the Budget Hearing scheduled for May 7, 2013 and the vote by the public scheduled for May 21, 2013.
In other business, the Board accepted the resignation of Mark Peace from the Board. There was some discussion regarding whether the Board should appoint someone to the Board in the interim. There was no action taken on that issue. The resignation means that 3 seats on the Board will be voted on at the May 21, 2013 election. Two seats will be for full 3 year terms and one seat will be to complete the term of the resigning Board member. Individuals interested in running for the Board will need to present their petitions to the Clerk of the Board by no later than April 20, 2013.
In April, Elementary and Middle School students grades 3 through 8 will be subjected to the new state assessment tests for ELA and Math which are based on the new Common Core curriculum. In spite of the fact that materials associated with the Common Core curriculum and the new assessments have not been made available by the State in a timely manner, 6 days in April will be devoted to these tests. School performance and teacher performance will be tied to the results of these tests. It is expected that the test scores will drop significantly for schools across the State. In addition, the new procedures require that the assessments be graded by another teacher other than a child’s classroom teacher which is going to result in some increased costs. In fact, two Superintendent days will be devoted to facilitating scoring these tests starting in the 2013 -14 school year.
In a budget related area, the Board approved sharing a Transportation Supervisor position with the Livonia School district. This person will be shared 60% Livonia and 40% Geneseo. Advertising for the position is to start immediately with the hope of hiring someone by June 1, 2013. This position is the outgrowth of efforts by the Board to work with other school districts in the BOCES on sharing services in order to address the critical financial situation that rural, low wealth school districts are facing in light of the state’s unfair distribution of State Aid to low wealth districts. Shared services beyond transportation will be on the Board’s agenda at the April 9th meeting.
Other matters included announcing the retirement of John Trowbridge, Elementary Music Teacher. Currently, there are 36 applicants for the position. The School Attorney, Wayne Vanderbyl, is also retiring this year and efforts are underway to hire a new Attorney.
The next Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 9th at 7 PM. This is a change from the regular meeting date of April 2, 2013.