Local school districts weigh in on proposed state education budget cuts

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 11:01 AM CDT
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School across Missouri are about to see less money from the state. Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced last week more than $130 million would be cut from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It could be pretty significant," said Dr. Shawn Poyser, Superintendent of the Warsaw School District.

"We really just got to tighten our belts," Poyser added. "We're not looking to cut any positions, maybe not back-fill some. We're not looking to cut programs, maybe cut back."

He says the district might have to buy fewer textbooks, chrome books, and other supplies students need to learn.

"We're going to have to be very, very smart here," Poyser said. "We already have a low fund balance, these rural districts like us that have lower fund balances we're going to have to be even more diligent in our planning, more conservative if you will."

One area seeing major cuts is transportation. The state is with holding $7 million from public school bussing.

"To hear that type of a message come out to us doesn't help us at all when it comes to transportation for a school system," said Gary Cuendet, Transportation Director for the Camdenton R-3 School District.

Cuendet said his department has worked to cut costs.

They've made sure all of their buses are made by the same company, which saves on parts and mechanic training. They also watch gas prices.

"We have large tanks here that we fuel our buses with. We try to watch the price of fuel and try to get it at the lower cost and not the high cost," Cuendet said.

Cuendet said his department can't even think of joining bus routes together because of how big the district is.

"We're 294 square miles. To take and try to tier route this district would be virtually impossible," Cuendet added.

He thinks the state needs to look at other places to cut funding, if and when funding cuts are needed.

"Transportation is a vital, vital part of a school system, and it has to continue being funded, and it has to continue for the students," Cuendet said.

Warsaw had already shifted to a 4-day school week to reduce its transportation expenses.

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