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School board reviews budget, school schedules

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The Denton ISD Board last week received a budget update from Debbie Monschke, executive director of administrative services, for the 2010-11 school year.

Monschke said the proposed budget cuts included a reduction in utility costs, decreasing staff and changing school times. Even with these and other cuts, the proposed budget for the 2010-11 school year is $2.9 million in the red.

The budget also includes the opening and staffing of Cross Oaks Elementary School and Gonzalez School for Young Children.

Changing school schedules
To reduce transportation costs, the Board has studied two proposals that affect the start and end times for all schools. The move could save the district up to $500,000 a year.

Proposal A:
Elementary Schools – 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Middle Schools – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
High Schools – 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Proposal B:
Elementary Schools – 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Middle Schools – 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.
High Schools – 8:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.

After outlining Proposal B, Superintendent Ray Braswell said, “We listened to the issues brought to us from our parents and they were legitimate concerns.”

Transportation Director Gene Holloway said the goal of his department was to deactivate up to 22 non-alternative fuel buses, which would reduce future bus acquisition costs by $2.2 to $2.7 million.

Board Member Mia Price said the district needed to work at the state level to realign UIL districts so Denton students could compete closer to home. “The main issue of middle school students not being supervised has been addressed,” she added.

The board directed the staff to recommend Plan B for action at the May 25th board meeting.

First reading approved on open enrollment policy
The Board approved the first reading of Policy FDA (Local), which opens enrollment to students living outside the district and could increase revenue and student numbers for the 2010-11 school year.

Under the new policy, non-resident students would be allowed to apply for tuition-free transfer to Denton ISD as long as requested campuses have available space.

The district would consider availability of space and instructional staff as well as disciplinary history, academic standing and attendance history of the student requesting transfer before approval is granted.

Board approves swimming club proposal
The Board approved a proposal by Chris Cullen, swimming coach for Denton ISD, who recommended a Denton ISD Aquatics Club. This will provide swimming opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students and would be offered on a fee-base level.

“This will get more students involved and provide additional revenue for the district,” Cullen said.

Cullen said he has 105 students who want to participate in the high school swim program next year.

Currently, the natatorium is open 14 hours a day – with only two hours utilized by the district’s high school swimmers. The city operates the natatorium and provides swim programs to the public when it is not utilized by the district.

If 100 students enroll in the program this summer, the net revenue would be almost $10,000 for the district.

In other action, the board received an update on the District Improvement Plan from Dr. Roger Rutherford, assistant superintendent of academic programs. He commended the commitment of the committee, which was reflected on the high attendance of the group.

Melanie Lewis, director of counseling services, reported on the district’s bully prevention and education program.  She outlined all the bully prevention and character building programs offered at each school.  Board President Jim Alexander and other trustees specifically commended the PALS programs at the high schools.

Board members identified legislative priorities that include transportation allotments, a 50-cent cap on bond capacity, UIL realignment, early childhood programs and other issues that affect the district.

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