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Trenton District Budget Adopted Without Busing

The members of the Trenton Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the 2011-12 budget without general education busing.

A brief rally to restore busing to the ended quickly as members voted to adopt the budget as it stood, which did not include transportation for general education students.

The budget was adopted unanimously with a remaining fund balance of  $655,393.

Members of the audience at the regularly scheduled board of education meeting Monday night began to clap in encouragement as board member Mike Hawkins stated his feelings about dropping busing for general education students.

“We’ve been doing it for so long, it became second nature,” Hawkins said.

There was some discussion among board members Hawkins and Carol Oakley regarding the demolition of the recently closed .

Board members voted to add the demolition of the school to the budget in a special meeting in May at a cost of $250,000, and busing would have cost the district about $400,000.

Hawkins said by not demolishing the building the district could use those funds to bring back busing for elementary and middle school students. The decision would have cost about an additional $90,000, which would have been taken from the general fund balance.

“I would rather that $250,000 that is dedicated to Taylor (Elementary School), moved back, for this year, for the elementary and middle school busing, even though we would have to take a little bit more from the general fund,” Hawkins said.

Oakley said once the money is spent on busing it wouldn’t be there to demolish the school in the future.

“If the building becomes an eyesore or the building becomes a hazard to the children who play in that area or the people who live in the area, you don’t have the money to do it (demolish the building),” Oakley said. “It kills all of us to do away with the busing.”

Board member Wayne Sieloff said the cost of keeping the building open would eventually become more than the cost for demolition because the building continues to use some utilities even though it is closed.

Sieloff said board members attempted to find alternate ways of utilizing or selling the building without cost to the district, but they were unsuccessful.

"At this point we have no buyers, even for a dollar, and ... it is a liability that we need to appropriately plan for," Sieloff said.

Trenton resident Jay Gulley said it was hard for him to understand why board members would demolish the building when many other important items are being cut from the budget due to financial hardships.

"I don't see why it has to be torn down now," Gulley said. "Why can't it wait a year and hopefully the funds will come in."

Board President Dennis Bearden said busing is a priority to the entire board and the decision was not without thoughtful consideration.

“The one thing that can be certain about every budget is that they're not final, in the sense that they almost always are amended and certainly that's been our behavior as a board ... as soon as we have the ability to amend our budget ... we would do so,” Bearden said.

As per state law, busing will continue to be provided for special education students.

Annie Ominous June 14, 2011 at 04:14 AM
The demolition decision is idiotic. This cost can be deferred until the state per pupil funding gets settled or realigned.. to take away busing ( an immediate need) for the sake of a non-emergent need ( demolishing Taylor) is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen a district do. This board has had to make some very tough choices this year, and I do not envy them, but this one is a total fumble. If protecting the children is the reason for the demo, I think the chances of a child getting hit while walking to school is far liklier than a child being injured (while trespassing and unsupervised no doubt) on Taylor grounds. I also do not think the board has given adequate time to shop the building, although it is a given that the market is terrible right now, but the market conditions are all the more reason to sit tight. The demo is dumb. Reverse it.

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