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Germantown school board votes down parent contracts

June 13, 2014

Germantown — There are other ways to save money than to nickel and dime bus transportation costs in the Germantown School District.

That was the consensus of the school board, which voted June 9 to not proceed with providing parent contracts to selected private and parochial school students in 2014-15.

The board has spent several months discussing the use of the contracts, which allow for payment to the families of eligible riders equal to the average cost to the district of busing the student, in return for the family providing transportation. The board last month voted against moving forward with using the contracts after a split 3-3 vote to amend the plan failed.

In Germantown, the average cost would be about $612, factoring in public, private and parochial students. This is a lot less than what the district spends to transport most of the private and parochial school students, which is between $1,000 and $3,000 per student. Affected parents would include parents of private and parochial students whose travel cost exceeds two times the average cost, or about $1,224.

Under the revised plan, which increased the cutoff from 1.5 times the district's average cost, between 20 and 30 students who attend Aquinas Academy, Falls Baptist, Calvary Baptist and Trinity Lutheran would have been affected. The potential cost savings was estimated between $60,000 and $80,000.

"There definitely is a potential for cost savings, especially when the preliminary budget we're looking at is short," said board member Thomas Barney, who chairs the board's transportation committee and voted in favor of the plan. A preliminary draft of the 2014-15 budget includes a structural deficit of as much as $1.5 million.

"The problem is when the people sit over there in Madison and create particularly the revenue cap laws, they never take this sort of thing into account," said Warnimont. "These are the things that nickel and dime public school districts to death."

It would have been the first time the district would employ the use of the contracts, but ultimately the safety of student riders and commitment to consistency for all taxpayers won out.

"It's an awful lot of money per kid when you think about the bigger perspective of things and obviously saving where we can benefits all of our kids (in the district)," board member Lester Spies said. "The flip side are things like the safety and security ... the parents are also taxpayers in the community and are involved with the district in other ways."

"I think we can look for other ways to save money," board member Brian Medved said.

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