Wednesday, April 11, 2001
DALLAS -- The most drastic budget cut the Dallas School District Board will have to face is the closure of one of its elementary schools. Dallas Schools Superintendent Dave Voves proposed closing Pedee Elementary School at the district's April 9 budget committee meeting. Pedee students would transfer to Bridgeport Elementary next school year.
Closing Pedee would save $117,000, Voves said. He estimated it would take around $250,000 to keep Pedee operational.
Pedee's declining enrollment had concerned the budget committee for at least three years, Voves said. Last year, the committee recommended Voves make a proposal regarding Pedee if the enrollment fell below 40 students. Current enrollment comes closer to 30.
The news disappointed longtime Pedee School worker Mary Christensen. "It's really frustrating. This has been going on for so long."
Christensen believes closing the school would end the vital role the school has in Pedee. "In a time when schools struggle with community and self-worth, they're wiping out a community," she said.
"We do so many interesting things here," Christensen said. "Every single student is taken care of."
"I hope people will want to fight" to keep Pedee School open, Christensen said, "because I will."
The Pedee School represents the only major budget cut, Voves said. The school district's general fund budget of $21.9 million includes several increases elsewhere.
To reduce class sizes, two additional licensed staff and classroom assistants would be hired at the elementary level. The district would also move two part-time business department employees to full time and hire one half-time technology assistant to match the district's growing technology program.
The budget also reflects increased costs. Voves expects fuel and electricity to increase by 25 percent. Health insurance, transportation, supplies and materials will cost more next year as well.
Voves has gambled on a school improvement grant that hinges on tobacco settlement money that may not come through. Half of this $602,935 would go to kindergarten through fifth-grade reading programs, the other half would be added to education money granted by the state.
The entire budget, Voves cautioned, relies on the governor's $5.2 billion education budget passing intact. Any cut to that budget would mean further cuts to the Dallas budget.
The budget committee meets April 16 at 7 p.m. and April 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the district office.