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Bus-related early dismissal no longer necessary

Shaw updates Dist. 54 Board on student busing

The Morris Elementary School Board was given a transportation update this week, learning that issues with busing students to and from White Oak Elementary have smoothed out.

Superintendent Teri Shaw gave the update to the District 54 board when it met Monday.

“There are no more early dismissals,” she said Tuesday.

During the first few weeks of school, students who rode the bus to and from Shabbona and White Oak were getting out early in order to accommodate the new busing system.

After a first couple of rough weeks, resulting in students getting home late from school, students started being let out 15 minutes early. Over time that has gradually shortened. For about three weeks now, all students have been in class until the last bell, Shaw said.

Morris Elementary, Morris Community High School District 101 and Saratoga School District 60C started sharing a bus system this year that is facilitated by Saratoga.

Under the new system, approved by all three school districts, Shabbona Middle School and Morris High students are picked up first and then buses go back for White Oak students. This system uses fewer buses and less labor, saving the districts money.

To address the bus schedule, traffic enforcement was added to Union and School streets to aid with traffic at the intersection.

“This shaved five to 10 minutes off the time for buses to leave Shabbona,” Shaw said.

Since new bus drivers are in the process of being added, monitors are on those buses assisting the drivers as they get used to their routes.

The District 54 board also approved a new policy that if buses are going to be more than 15 minutes late leaving from White Oak, parents will be notified through automated contact via text, email and/or call.

The board also approved the fiscal 2014 budget. The estimated beginning balance is just less than $4.6 million, with an ending balance of about $4 million. The total revenue for all the funds is expected to be $13.3 million and expenditures at $13.8 million.

The district’s revenue continues to decrease because of declining equalized assessed values lowering property taxes to the schools. Shaw said the district’s tax increment financing district funds are also expected to go down because its general state aid will be going up.

Shaw said the board went over the goals for the fiscal year, including some renovation work at Shabbona and developing a five-year financial projection.

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