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Too little funds for summer reading, math programs?

Zoe Greszler • Apr 3, 2019 at 2:00 AM

MONROEVILLE — Monroeville schools may be going without a summer reading and math program this year due to lack of funds. 

The school board discussed the possibility of needing to cancel the educational programs it normally holds over the summer break.

The programs is expected to cost the district between $6,900 and $8,900, Elementary Principal Bob Butler said. The price difference would depend on how many students would show up and how much staff would be needed.

In 2016 a reading program alone cost about $3,500, and after math was added in 2017 and 2018, the school spent $6,900 and $6,500 respectively. Despite the expense, Superintendent Ralph Moore said the program has been worth the cost in the past, with test scores to prove it.

“In many cases we’ve had kids enter the next grade at a higher level when come back from break than they had before break,” Moore said. “They’re progressing instead of regressing.”

After the community failed to pass a district levy last year, Moore said the administration and school board have had to make “some tough decisions” on what the district could afford, and what it couldn’t.

“The bottom line is, we may need some general fund money if we end up having (the programs) at all,” Moore said.

He told the school board treasurer Stephanie Hanna thoroughly looked through the district’s funds and adjusted what would be funded, and what couldn’t. The board approved the budget, noting finances of the district are tight until another levy could be passed.

“I trust your budget,” board member Dan Bemis said. “We had to delete the summer fund from the budget and you made that decision based on the funds and you knew what we could afford to do. We had to do what we had to do. ... As an administration, you had to make a hard choice that no one wanted to do. But until we find more funding we’re going to have to figure that out.”

Bemis noted that if Butler could come up with another solution for funding, or if other money could be pooled from another source, he would be “all in favor of figuring it out.”

“I think the costs you have (for the program) are very good,” he added. “It’s not a matter of being judicious with expenses. I think you’re doing great with that. It’s just a matter of funding.”

Butler said he looked into grants that could help to cover the summer program costs, however, because of the payout date, the school would have to fund the program before it even knew if the grant would be awarded, let alone the money dispersed.

“The issue is many grants you apply for don’t fund out the money until after the fact,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we’d get the grant, but we don’t know.”

The principal said in the meantime, he’s looking into other options to cut costs to the program, including seeking donations for the food and other necessary items. Butler said he would reach out to area businesses to seek any donations that might help to cover the costs, adding he felt the program was an important one for the district to keep. 

In other business, the school approved next year’s school calendar, which adjusted school times. Monroeville students will attend classes from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. across all grade levels. 

“We’ve had parents and staff and board input on all the calendars and this is the one that we thought was best for the district,” Moore said. “This is the one the staff recommended.”

The board also approved 63 students to graduate in May, pending successful completion of all the graduate requirements this semester.

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