Wherehave all the buses gone?

Published on Thu, Jul 29, 2004 by ack Kintner

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Where have all the buses gone?

By Jack Kintner

The Blaine school board passed what was characterized as a “no-frills” budget Monday night that nonetheless amounted to a little over $16.3 million in expenditures. They also filled out their complement of board members by swearing in Red Goodwin of Blaine to fill out Deb Hart’s unexpired term.

Hart, whose business is conducted in metropolitan areas in California and western Washington, was forced to resign when she found her Monday nights unavailable for board meetings. Goodwin was the only applicant who was qualified to serve and met all the requirements, including living in the part of the school district from which his seat must be filled. The district consists of Point Roberts and the northwest part of the city of Blaine, as is set by state law following each 10-year census.

One victim of the budget ax is the late activity buses district wide. Though a few parents have written to school superintendent Dr. Mary Lynne Derrington with their concerns, no one showed up at the board meeting itself to contest the decision. Derrington said she’ll send a letter to district parents explaining the situation. “We do not make these cuts without some agony,” she said, “but our job is to set priorities when resources are dwindling, one of which is classroom support. That’s more important in our thinking than extra transportation.”

Business manager Joanne Freeman supplied a pie chart that showed well over 75 percent of district resources going to personnel and benefits. Priorities in planning dictated that teachers be given modest raises (one percent this year, two percent next year) and that class size be kept as small as possible.

“This means that a lot of otherwise administrative curriculum detail falls to the principals,” said Derrington. “They’re supporting small class size by taking on more work each year that otherwise might go to an administrative specialty, in this case perhaps an assistant superintendent for curriculum,” Derrington said.

This becomes an issue, she continued, when the district must meet state and federally mandated but unfunded guidelines that require not only new curriculum but new ways of teaching it as well. “It’s not just a matter of buying a new book. To get the results they want from us we need to really work with it,” Derrington said in conclusion.