Edison High School students will be on their own for transportation next year.
Berlin-Milan Schools cut back to the state minimum on busing — providing it only for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade who live more than two miles from school — as part of a package of budget cuts approved during a special board meeting on Monday.
The cuts are projected to save the district $231,000 next year. They come after two levy failures and $365,000 in cuts approved in March.
Between $125,000 and $150,000 of the savings will come from transportation.
In addition to busing fewer students, Berlin-Milan will consolidate routes so elementary and middle-school students will ride together.
That also means changing the hours for elementary school, which will start next year at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.
Other cuts include:
- Four teacher aides
- Elementary field trips other than Greenfield Village
- Middle school clubs other than student council, yearbook and Webmasters
The board also instituted a pay-to-participate system for extracurricular activities that require off-campus transportation, including marching band, show choir and sports.
The fee is $125 per student per activity at the high school and $75 at the middle school, with a family cap of $500 per year.
Superintendent David Snook said fees will be waived for students who receive free or reduced-price lunches.
“Yeah, that sure costs extra money, but we left the programs pretty much intact,” he said. “We talked about not letting the band go to away football games, for example.”
Other than away games, however, the marching band will be limited to two out-of-district events per year.
Board members acknowledged the changes will be an inconvenience or even a hardship for families, but said they were the best way to cut costs without affecting academics.
But Marsha Hurst, president of the classified employees’ union, said there could be some effects.
“The aides do quite a bit of the work while teachers are either teaching the class or when teachers have kids at lunchtime,” she said.
She also voiced concerns that more high-school students would be tardy or absent without busing.
“We understand it’s going to be inconvenient for a lot of folks,” board president Carla Rospert said. “That one’s going to be a tough one. But $125K is a big item.”
The two-mile radius for school buildings is calculated based on the distance driven along the shortest route. Families who are affected will be notified.
District officials also promised more details about the pay-to-participate program at the next board meeting, June 24.
Snook said the new cuts will “stave off several months of red ink.”