School of Choice Considered for 2012-13 School Year
A lack of enrollment led district administrators to consider making Trenton Public Schools a school of choice district.
Making Trenton Public Schools a limited school of choice district was among the proposed recommendations to balance the budget for the 2012-13 school year at Monday's board of education meeting.
Board members will discuss the recommendation further at a board of education meeting scheduled for April 16. The final budget must be passed in June.
Under limited school of choice, board members would have the ability to choose to allow certain grade levels to enter the district. Also, students who have exhibited bad behavior could be denied access.
Superintendent Larry Leapley said it was too early to say which grade levels would be allowed in the district.
Leapley said a significant decline in enrollment over the past five years contributed to administrators' decision to allow students from other districts to attend Trenton schools.
The district has seen an enrollment reduction of about 350 students over the past five years, which is equal to a loss of about $2.9 million in district funding.
Leapley said retirement costs and health benefits also played a part in decision-making.
Retirement costs are projected to increase from about 24 percent of the districts total annual spending to about 27 percent for the 2012-13 school year.
Gail Farrell, district business manager, said additional cuts could be made to balance the coming budget.
Farrell said board members could consider:
- Eliminating three teaching positions
- Reduction in transportation costs
- Reduction in individual building budgets
- Elimination of energy manager
- Reductions in custodial budget
- Reduction in athletics budget
- Other reductions in non-personnel areas
Farrell added the 2012-13 expenses are less than those of 2011-12.
Recently, district administrators began looking into privatizing busing.
The anticipated revenue for the 2012-13 budget is about $23.4 million and, with the proposed budget, expenses are about $24.1 million, which leaves the district with about a $720,000 shortfall.
Leapley said the shortfall would be balanced using funds from the general fund balance leaving the fund balance at about $800,000.
Leapley and Farrell said the proposed budget numbers are likely to change and any changes to the budget would be discussed at the April 16 meeting.