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Galt Joint Union Elementary School District trustees decide against bus service fee

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Posted: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:18 am, Fri Jun 24, 2011.

Although the district's transportation department has been operating with a quarter of a million dollar or more deficit for at least two years, Galt Joint Union Elementary School District trustees decided against charging students to ride the bus. The fee would have gone into effect come fall.

"Additional district research indicated that 85 percent of our bus riders receive free (or) reduced lunches. Given this information and a projected gross income of $14,200 by charging for transportation fees, the board could not justify the fees," Superintendent Karen Schauer said in an e-mail.

The decision was made at the regular board meeting Wednesday. The fee would have been waived for freeand reduced-lunch recipients.

Trustees also adopted the 2011-12 financial plan and voted on across-the-board salary cuts to a number of positions. However, if the state funds education at a higher level, the compensation reductions could be reversed or lowered.

Affected positions include the superintendent, school district administration, supervisors and confidential employees.

Depending on the final state budget outcome, Schauer will take either seven or 12 furlough days, while other administrators could see either six or 10 furlough days.

"The board commented that they thought this was a fair way to approach the furloughs since we also had differing number of furlough days for certificated or classified staff, depending on the final state budget," Schauer said.

Trustees will continue taking a 10 percent cut in their stipend and health benefit allowance.

The board also approved next school year's budget which includes a number of personnel cuts due to funding. Among those are the youth development coordinator.

During public comment, supporters spoke out to retain John Durand, who currently holds that position.

Speakers wanted to continue to see his leadership to support youth development and service learning in area school districts, the Cosumnes River Preserve and McFarland Ranch Living History Ranch, Schauer said.

At this time, however, the district may not be able to fund the position since a large chunk of it was funded by grants that are no longer available.

Meanwhile, a study session has been set for next month to review district goals and action planning. The board wanted to have more time to discuss past, current and future efforts with time for public comment.

It is not the first time the board has discussed transportation fees. In fall 2009, trustees also voted down a proposal.

The district transports an average of 690 students one-way each day.

In Lodi Unified last fall, officials decided to scrap a similar plan after public outcry that the cost was too high and notification timeline too short.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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