Russellville buses face serious cuts

RUSSELLVILLE — In the previous school year, the state reimbursed only $73,000 of the nearly $200,000 it is mandated to cover for the Cole County R-1 Schools transportation.

Because that percent of state reimbursement is expected to drop further for this school year, school officials eliminated one of its seven bus routes.

If the legislature continues to not fulfill its funding responsibilities, the school may eliminate all field trips and no longer pick up students who live within three miles of the school.

The state is supposed to fund the school transportation at 75 percent of the eligible expenses, said Superintendent Jerry Hobbs.

The 2012-2013 school year, the state reimbursed less than 30 percent of Russellville’s qualified expenses. And Hobbs told the Board of Education Thursday that he anticipates the state will fund less than 20 percent for this school year.

On another state-related matter, Hobbs has been appointed along with three other superintendents by Rep. Steve Cookson, chairman of the House Education Committee, to be liaisons. Hobbs will accompany the committee as it tours the state this week, to help answer questions and provide suggestions.

In other business, the board:

• Learned the district earned 96.4 percent on its last evaluation, ranking it 40th among 523 public schools.

• Reviewed drawings for the final phase of the track project, expecting bids to be advertised within the next 45 days.

• Accepted a letter of retirement from Kameha Underwood, effective May 2014.

• Acknowledged the high school Students of the Month — Gabe Raithel, senior; Jamie Porter, junior; Halie Dampf, sophomore; and Stacia Schollmeyer, freshman.

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