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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The Oregon school board approved new school day starting and ending times for next year to make transportation operation more cost-effective.

The district's recent performance audit had identified transportation costs as being inefficient.

The district has been operating under a “two-tiered” bus schedule for many years, according to Superintendent Mike Zalar. “Basically, this means our various school buildings operate under essentially two different start and ending times,” said Zalar. “The high school and middle schools comprise one tier and the elementary schools make up the other tier. By organizing our district geographically and increasing the bus routing to “three-tiers” we can reduce the number of buses needed to transport  all of our students to school. In addition, we will need fewer buses in our fleet.”

The change will save the district an estimated $213,000 in net savings, according to Zalar.

Transitioning from a two-tiered system to a three-tiered system will require adjustments to the school buildings' starting and ending times next year, said Zalar.

“The adjustment might be as small as 5-10 minutes either way, or possibly 30 minutes in one or two instances,” he said. “Additionally, the three-tiered system will prevent both middle schools from being on the same bell schedule and our four elementary schools will have slightly different schedules as well.”

The district's budget woes has caused the board to make the changes, he said.

“However, this is an area of cost savings that will not have any negative educational impact on student learning,” said Zalar.

“We're not disrupting any class time, or educational opportunities of the students,” said School Board President Jeff Ziviski.

The new schedule was presented to the board at the beginning of May, then tabled for additional discussion before the board approved it, said Ziviski.

“We wanted to discuss the possible impact that this has on parents and service providers within the community,” said Ziviski. “Parents will have to possibly rearrange schedules to make sure their kids have adequate supervision or day care based on the new starting and end times of the school day.”

The new schedule for next year is as follows:
•Clay High School, from 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.;
•Eisenhower Middle School from 7:45 a.m. To 2:15 p.m.;
•Fassett Middle School from 8:25 a.m. To 2:55 p.m.;
•Coy Elementary from 8:35 a.m. To 2:50 p.m.;
•Starr Elementary from 8:35 a.m. To 2:50 p.m.;
•Jerusalem Elementary from 9:15 a.m. To 3:30 p.m.;
•Wynn Elementary from 9:15 a.m. To 3:30 p.m.  
•A performance audit issued by the auditor of state  recommended deep budget cuts for the district.

The audit, begun last August, assessed the district’s financial systems, human resources, facilities, and transportation.

The school board in April reviewed the report at a closed door meeting with officials from the auditor’s office. Later, the board approved a general fund reduction plan proposed by Zalar that cut $3.2 million from the budget. The plan eliminates 78 positions in the school system, including thirty-one teachers and two administrators next year.

A variety of classified positions will also be eliminated, such as bus drivers and library aides.

The district faces a $1.9 million deficit at the end of the 2009-10 school year, $7 million the following year, and $23.4 million in 2012-13.

Much of the district’s financial woes is attributable to House Bill 66, passed in June, 2005. The bill phases out tax on tangible personal property of general businesses, telephone and telecommunications companies and railroads.

Last month, the board agreed, for the first time, to place an emergency levy on the August 4 ballot. The levy is equivalent to 5.95 mills. The board decided to go with an emergency levy instead of the traditional operating levy because it is guaranteed to generate $3,606,063 per year for 10 years. Revenue from an operating levy, by comparison, depends on fluctuating property values.

House Bill 66, passed in June, 2005, is mainly responsible for the district’s projected deficits. The bill phases out tax on tangible personal property of general businesses, telephone and telecommunications companies and railroads.

The board made significant budget cuts and passed a 5.9-mill levy in the last several years to avoid looming budget deficits.

In four years, the district has cut expenses by nearly $7 million.

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