ACGC board considers cost-cutting options

GROVE CITY -- The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board may have to consider "extreme" options as they look for new ways to cut costs and raise revenue following the defeat Nov. 6 of an operating levy.

GROVE CITY -- The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board may have to consider "extreme" options as they look for new ways to cut costs and raise revenue following the defeat Nov. 6 of an operating levy.

At their meeting Monday, Board Member Dan Tait said the board has discussed "some pretty extreme what-ifs," including having four-day school weeks to save money.

"We're at the point where we need to be extreme," said Janell Johnson, who, along with other board members, was clearly frustrated that voters turned back the levy request for the fourth time in three years. "There's nothing left to cut."

Boardmember Rick Nordin said it is not possible to cut any more educational programs to save money. He said he's disappointed the residents have not supported the district.

The board briefly discussed budget-reducing possibilities, like hiring a superintendent who could double as a business manager. ACGC currently has an interim superintendent and their business manager said she intends to retire in 17 months, which could present opportunities for restructuring the administration.


Hiring one individual to do both jobs would take a "unique" person, said Dr. Keith Redfield, whose one-year stint as ACGC part-time interim superintendent ends June 30.

Johnson said she'd be willing to consider the "old school" double job at the top, but wouldn't be eager to explore sharing a superintendent with another district.

District administrators will also meet with the Cosmos City Council next month to discuss the possibility of leasing unused garage and storage space at the elementary school there to the city.

Also, a small wing of the school that includes five classrooms and a bathroom that was closed as a cost-saving measure could be made available for other educational uses that would generate revenue, said 5-K principal Sherri Broderious.

While there are a few unused classrooms at the Cosmos elementary school, Board Chairwoman Judy Raske said there isn't enough space available to make it possible to close one of the three school buildings. If one building was closed, she said, the district would have to have a bond referendum to raise money to build an addition.

One area where the district won't find any fat to trim is in its transportation system.

The board received a written copy of a report prepared by Chuck Corliss, from the Center for Efficient School Operations, who conducted a audit of the ACGC transportation system.

He praised the district's transportation contractor, Dean and Mary Carlson, and said the district has a "safe and efficient transportation system" that is so well-run that he could find no significant budget reductions to recommend.


He said if the district is already paying a below average rate for their transportation service and that no other contractor would be willing to operate at a loss to take over the business from the current contractor.

The only way the district could see any cost savings in transportation would be to close the school in Cosmos or change the boundaries of which students attend school in Atwater or Cosmos to a more north/south orientation, instead of the current east/west orientation. But the report said that kind of a change would be "too drastic for the district to consider for the sole purpose of transportation efficiencies."

But, Corliss wrote, unless the district is willing to make such drastic changes, there can be no savings in rerouting the buses within the district.

Corliss said his company, which has the goal of helping schools keep "educational dollars in the classroom" has other services to help schools, but said there was nothing more that could be done to help ACGC because their transportation system was already running as efficiently as it could.

He also gave the district a break on his fees, charging only 75 percent of the original cost, bringing the final cost to about $1,000.

While some board members adamantly said the district will need to have another levy referendum until it's eventually approved, others said that all options for reducing costs need to be reviewed and digested before a decision is made on a referendum.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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