Budget Stalemate Looms Over Unit 5 | WGLT

Budget Stalemate Looms Over Unit 5

Jan 19, 2017

Unit 5 Business Manager Marty Hickman said the state's ongoing budget impasse brings uncertainty to the school district. 

Hickman presented a six month budget review to the school board Wednesday evening to discuss future expenses and predicted deficits. 

The district lost $1 million of their transportation fund, forcing a change to school start times and bus routes to save money. 

Hickman said he is not sure what Unit 5 will do to cope with a long-term shortfall. 

Business District Manager Marty Hickman discusses six month budget review with Unit 5 School Board.
Credit Baylee Steelman

"It becomes very hard for school districts like ours to plan a future to budget," said Hickman. "To plan staffing, to plan class sizes without knowing really what's going to happen." 

Hickman said the board originally budgeted to run 121 bus routes but added one more to ensure things run smoothly. 

The state currently owes Unit 5 $6 million. 

Additionally, Hickman said Unit 5 is working to add buses to their fleet in order to serve students with special needs. 

The school board passed a $3.5 million bond to go toward reimbursing the working cash fund for 2017 after the board purchased school buses last June. 

Hickman said there is enough buses in the fleet but not enough for students needing accommodations. 

"We have plenty of large buses, maybe more than enough spares there," said Hickman. "But we need more spares with wheelchair access and just smaller buses. Just for short-term, we've agreed to rent three of those buses from First Student."

Hickman said the board will no longer need to rent buses from First Student after they purchase roughly 50 buses next semester, including wheelchair accessible and shorter buses.