School Board prepares for school year

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As students head off to school, there will be nine new buses on the road to get them to class. The new buses – at a cost of $532,690 – were among several items discussed by the Zionsville Community School Board Aug. 12 as the new school year got underway.

Transportation Director Amy Eaton said the cost for the new buses was around $175,000 less than was budgeted for the Bus Replacement Fund. All the buses being replaced are in their 14th or 15th year of service.

The 2013-2014 school year also means the opening of Boone Meadow Elementary School. Supt. Dr. Scott Robison said the district hired seven new teachers to accommodate enrollment growth as well as re-assigning existing teachers to improve class sizes. The total cost for these new teachers is around $438,000.

Although Robison said the district expects to receive a net increase of $481,000 in state tuition support, the amount of money given per student continues to decline. This decrease in state funding means ZCS continues to face even greater funding problems than was addressed through the referendum funding.

Robison said even though 26 new teachers were hired last year with referendum funding, elementary class sizes continue to grow through increasing enrollment and a decline in tuition support from the state.

“It’s a matter of simple mathematics that if our enrollment is continuing to increase and the amount we receive per pupil continues to decline, our shortfall will continue to grow.” Robison said. “The referendum funds are a tremendous help in restoring programs and keeping class sizes manageable, but they will not eliminate the inequities in the state funding formula.”

Also, the board held a first reading about changes to school rules about bullying. This is to comply with new state laws regarding bullying. Some changes include staff training on bullying, reporting bullying, discipline policies and prevention.

During the meeting, steps were also taken to advertise the 2014 budget. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13.  If you’d like to find additional information about the budget, it’ll be posted 30 days before the public hearing at www.zcs.k12.in.us.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Educational Services Center at 900 Mulberry St. To look at previous minutes or listen to podcasts of the meetings, you can always go to the ZCS website.

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