SoCal district finds ways to cut spending

With school funding being cut state-wide, districts are having to come up with ways to watch spending. South Callaway School District found one way to save a a bit of its budget.

The alternative education program at the high school is currently operating out of a house that is located about a quarter mile out in front of the school. After discussing the plan with the appropriate parties, the district has decided to move the program into a large classroom in the vocational wing of the high school building.

Heather Helsel, high school principal, said this should save the district money in security and utility costs. Instead of having to spend money on the older building, the program can just operate out of the high school, she explained.

Superintendent Mary Lynn Battles said the white older home used to house the district’s superintendents many years ago. Bringing the alternative program’s students into their own room of the vocational wing with easy access to the parking lot would serve two purposes, Battles said.

“It would give them access to more opportunities within the building and still maintain the autonomy of the alternative program,” she said.

Mary Van Orden, director of the alternative education program, said the academy will still provide all the necessary means for students to meet the credits they need to graduate.

“The move is a physical one,” Van Orden said. “The program remains and will remain strong.”

Running an entire building for only a few students was not energy efficient, she added, so that’s why it was decided the program will now operate out of the high school starting in the fall.

During its board meeting Feb. 9, the district also talked about the possibility of cutting its tuition reimbursement program. Battles said the district currently will reimburse teachers who take up to eight graduate credit hours to further their education. However, she said, the district may need to drop this in an effort to trim its budget.

Nine school days have been missed due to inclement weather, and the board adjusted its calendar to extend the third quarter to make up for days missed. South Callaway schools already held school on Martin Luther King Jr. day to make up one snow day and plan to also attend on Presidents Day. One day of each of the usual four-day Spring and Easter breaks will be cut. The remaining make up days will be tacked onto the end of the school year, making May 27 the new last school day for students.

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