District puts off changing schedules

BY CLARK CAHILL | APRIL 27, 2009 7:28 AM

Students and staff in the Iowa City School District won’t have to worry about changing their daily routine for at least another year.

Superintendent Lane Plugge announced April 24 he has recommended to postpone any potential schedule change to the district’s 24 schools until at least the 2010-11 school year. He previously wanted the Iowa City School Board the make a decision — in an effort to save money — for the 2009-10 school year by this Tuesday’s meeting.

“We need to make sure the change is successful,” Plugge said. “There are many factors that go into making the decision, and we need more time.”

District officials had discussed five options for changing elementary and secondary schedules — all involving beginning one significantly earlier than the other to reduce the number of buses used by doubling routes.

The proposed options would have elementary schools starting as early as 7:50 a.m. and ending as late as 3:50 p.m., while secondary schools could start as early as 7:40 a.m. and end as late as 4 p.m.

The options would save the district anywhere from $275,000 to $825,000 in transportation costs at a time when officials are trying to reduce expenses by $6 million over the next two years.

“I would like to have the savings now, but I want to make sure we make the right choice,” Plugge said.

School districts usually take a few years before implementing schedule changes once dialogue begins, he said. Iowa City district officials began weighing options only a few months ago.

“It’s not something we can implement one year and then change it the next,” said Toni Cilek, Iowa City School Board president. “We will have to make cuts over the next few years, but we are hoping we will be OK putting this aside for now.”

Officials hope they can make a decision on schedule changes by next fall, Plugge said.

“I think given the savings projections there will be an adjustment made,” Cilek said. “We don’t know for sure what that is going to be, but we will need to do something to save that money.”

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