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Indian River board agrees on budget, late bus runs for 2013-14

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PHILADELPHIA — Indian River students who want to play sports next year will be able to get a ride home, as the school district reinstates late bus runs.

Busing and athletic programs were among the items discussed Thursday night by the Board of Education as it considered the proposed $79.5 million budget for next year.

The tax levy — originally proposed with a 2.79 percent increase two weeks ago — now carries a 2.59 percent increase. The total 2013-14 budget is set at $79,527,704, about 5 percent higher than the current year’s budget. Appropriated fund balance — the amount to be used to offset a tax increase — is $17,655,455.

“We still need to see whether or what the impact of new aid runs from the budget will do on the revenue side,” Business Manager James R. Koch said in an email message Friday. “If there is a significant change in the budgeted amounts from the state, that can change things from last night.”

The 12-month student mentor position for late runs and the middle school was changed to a 10-month position. The cost was split between fund balance and taxes. According to Mr. Koch, the change took 0.2 percent off the tax levy.

This year, the last bus run is at 4 p.m. for detention. Six new bus runs will be added to the 5:30 p.m. slot at the high school and the 5:40 slot at the middle school, which gives athletes bus runs for the first time since 2005.

“I don’t have an issue with that at all,” board Vice President Thomas L. Lapp said. “We can do it without hardship.”

Juan C. and Aurora M. Rodriguez, parents of two student athletes who raised the issue in September, were present when the board decided to keep the new proposed runs in next year’s budget.

“There are kids who didn’t do sports because they didn’t have a ride home,” Mrs. Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to take advantage of it next year.”

She will move back to Virginia next year while her husband is deployed, she said.

Mr. Rodriguez said it was worth staying at the three-hour meeting to hear that the bus runs will return, even with a newborn baby in tow.

“We’re glad that it’s finally decided,” he said. “They haven’t had it for several years, so they’re going to need to get the word out.”

Although Mr. Koch recommended cutting junior varsity cheerleading next year because of a lack of interest, Athletic Director Jay M. Brown asked that the team stay through the next year.

He said there was a lack of interest because JV cheerleading did not start until winter.

“A lot of them that were cut from varsity dropped,” he said. “Our Pop Warner group is so strong. Some of those kids didn’t want to be a part of the program, the JV program.”

The board will vote on the budget at its April 4 meeting.

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