Students who live in McCloud and opt to attend Mount Shasta High School will have to find their own transportation to and from school next year.

Students who live in McCloud and opt to attend Mount Shasta High School will have to find their own transportation to and from school next year.

During a Siskiyou Union High School meeting at Weed High School Monday, board members decided to eliminate the bus run which transports students from McCloud to Mount Shasta and back. The change will save SUHSD approximately $20,000 in staff, fuel and maintenance costs, said superintendent Mike Matheson.

The decision came after much consideration over the past two months. Matheson explained that he sent out surveys to McCloud parents and shared the results with the board.

Out of the four respondents, three said they would continue to send their children to MSHS despite the inconvenience of finding alternate transportation, Matheson said.

“We don’t run buses from one community to the other in any other circumstance,” Matheson said, pointing out that many students who live in Weed attend MSHS and  always find their own way to and from school.

He added that he has been working with STAGE to find a way to accommodate the 20 to 25 students who regularly took advantage of the school bus system.

After some discussion, board members John Hines, Lori Harch, Joe Blevins and Linda Wallace unanimously agreed to discontinue the bus route. Board member Sue Tavalero was not present.

Matheson’s contract renewed
Harch announced that during closed session, the board unanimously agreed to renew a contract with Matheson for a period of three years.

Matheson will take an unpaid six day work reduction along with other District administrators in order to help balance the budget.

Categorical flexibility
The board voted to allow categorical flexibility in several programs, including ninth grade class size reduction, community day school, ROP, School Safety and Violence, arts and music, CAHSEE, supplemental counseling, economic impact aid, instructional materials, peer assistance review, pupil retention block, and professional development.

There was no public comment.

Matheson explained that in some cases, such as ROP and instructional materials, a portion of the allotted money will be used to continue those programs. The extra balance will then be swept into the general fund to be used for general purposes.

In other cases, programs have been cut or suspended.  The funding which had been restricted for that use only will be used for general purposes in order to keep the school running.

One example is the community day school, which will not be offered next year. While the district will still receive  funding for the school, the money will be utilized in the general fund.

“We’ve had to prioritize,” Matheson said. Decisions regarding what to keep and what to cut had to be made for the good of the entire district, he said.

“In the past, large amounts of money were stuck in restricted funds,” Hines clarified for the audience and fellow board members. “Sometimes there was too much, and we felt we couldn’t spend it responsibly... The state recognized that, and for a limited time we are able to utilize those funds differently.”

Approval of budget
After a long discussion, the board approved an operating budget for the 2010-2011 school year.

“It’s a good budget under current circumstances,” Matheson said, praising Julie Plank for her “hours and hours of hard work” putting it together.

He explained that a budget is a living document and is subject to change. This is especially true since the state budget is so uncertain.

Incorporated into the budget is an increase in state lottery revenue per student average daily attendance, a reduction in contracted services and professional consulting and a reduction of Forest Reserve revenues.

Plank also said the district is dealing with the loss of more than $1.4 million in revenue from the state, which represents a deficit factor of about 21 percent of the expected revenue limit.

The revenue limit is how the state funds schools, she explained. They have a certain way of figuring out how much districts are to be funded. Both the districts and the state calculate the amount, and then they agree on how much funding should be received.

Because of the state’s financial situation, schools will be deficited, Plank said. She added that this is a situation that is expected to last for years to come.

Categorical flexibility is also a big part of keeping the budget balanced, as is the approval of an unpaid six day work reduction for administration (District superintendent and principals) and classified management staff (those who work in the District Office.)

Because the positions are salaried, Plank said their daily rate will be calculated, and their salary will be cut the appropriate amount.