Sunday, 16 June 2024

Middletown Unified seeks parents' input on ways to trim budget

MIDDLETOWN – The Middletown Unified School District Board of Trustees is looking to the community for suggestions on how to trim expenses to meet more expected budget cuts.


The board will meet at 7 pm. Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the district's multi-use building at 20932 Big Canyon Road.


With the district facing less state funding coupled with a continuing drop in enrollment, district Superintendent Dr. Korby Olson said that the board is beginning its discussion into how it can save on expenses.


They plan to look at several different areas, starting with a close consideration of transportation, which is both costly for the district and has a potentially large impact on families, he said.


“It's a place where we can make reductions that are not in the classroom,” Olson explained. “But it's only the beginning.”


Olson said no action will be taken at the Oct. 28 meeting, which is merely a starting point.


He said the district receives some funding from the state for transportation, but the district budgets another $270,000 out of its general fund to get students to and from school.


Last year the district held a meeting to begin talking about possible changes in transportation – including route changes and the possibility of charging, as Lake County News has reported.


However, Olson said hardly anyone showed up, so this time they gave parents plenty of notice, sending out a recent letter to families notifying them of the Wednesday meeting.


The letter notes that the district has had to cut nearly $2 million from its budget over the last two years. Olson said they anticipate another possible $1 million cut in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Federal stimulus funds have helped fill the gap that resulted from less state funding, but that money is a temporary fix.


Olson's letter to parents also invited them to participate in a survey about transportation options. The survey can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=A_2fDh9Xyue1OHFjomW_2ff3Cw_3d_3d .


The survey's first question is what Olson calls a “throwaway” item – it asks if transportation should be eliminated except as required by law, which it notes is “the most drastic step that could be taken” but which would result in a savings of $220,000, the equivalent of four teaching positions.


“I don't see that as a possibility for us,” nor is it an option the district would want to take, said Olson.


Other options include reducing routes or possibly charging a fee to families who use the services.


So far, the survey has shown that a few of the route plan reductions have some support, Olson said.


There's also a little support for charging fees, Olson added. While he could see charing a fee as being part of an overall strategy, it's not a solution all by itself, because the amount they would have to charge to make an impact would be too much.


Once they've gathered information on Wednesday, the board will look at some refined proposals at its Nov. 18 meeting. Then in January district administration will have some proposals for them to consider adopting, Olson said.


He said he doubts there is any resulting action the district can take this year, so changes may take place next year. But Olson said he can't yet say what's going to happen.


Visit the Middletown Unified School District's Web site at www.middletownusd.org .


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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