With enrollment down, and state funds down, the Alta School Board is looking at reducing next year's school budget.
"We are trying to keep our expenses in line with the revenue," said Superintendent Fred Maharry.
The teachers, staff and administrators have made reductions in supplies used all this school year, cutting down the budget.
"With 85 percent of our budget going to pay staff, we need to reduce staffing expenses," Maharry said. Eighty percent of the districts in the state are managing declining enrollments and many are going through what we are."
A plan is being developed and will be discussed at the February meeting. Staff has already been informed that reductions must be made.
"It's not a pleasant subject for anyone and we know it is tough for the staff and their families but we need to plan for the future and maintain the budget."
An attractive retirement plan has been made to four teachers who have been with the district for 15 years and are at least 55 years old; a $30,000 bonus to each has also been offered to be paid over one, two or three years.
"This is a way to reduce staffing with out laying off. A lot of other districts will be looking at this," the superintendent said.
The district has an early retirement plan in effect but it was made more attractive with the $30,000. The board and administrators have discussed the matter with their district attorney. The four teachers have been made the offer and will have until March 3 to accept or decline the offer. The offer, Maharry said, is a one-year agreement and will not be offered next year.
The board will be discussing other options at their Feb. 11 meeting and be prepared if any or all of the teachers decline the offer. Maharry said the teachers would most likely not be replaced with less-experienced teachers if they do accept the offer.
"This is a starting point as we plan for the future."
At their meeting last week, the board made the decision to purchase a used school bus from School Bus Sales at a cost of $66,483. The bus has very few miles on it and was being used in the Belmond-Klemme district, trading it in for a larger bus. The bus has a lift in it that would allow for 40 students and a handicapped student to ride.
In looking at costs for new buses, they are much more expensive.
The Alta district currently is using one bus - a 1995 - equipped with a wheelchair lift. The new bus also is equipped with safety flashing lights "that can't be missed when it's stopped," said bus driver Mary Stout.
The board also approved getting rid of the 1991 Thomas 72-passenger bus and the high bid of $500 from a firm in Carroll.
Driver's education classes will cost parents $10 more than last year. Fees will be raised from $200 to $210, a five percent increase.
Last year there were 46 students and expenses were $9,902. Not enough funds were taken in last year to pay all the costs; the increase will not cover all the costs, either.
"We need to stay the projected energy increases," Maharry said.
The instructor will be paid $150 per student.
The 4-year-old program is running well. It has been recommended that resident students receive the first opportunity to enroll in the program and if there are spaces left over, they will be filled first come, first serve.