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Duchesne schools ordered to trim travel costs

All Duchesne County schools have been placed on tighter budgets for travel expenses, and the district's motor pool has been significantly diminished.

The cost-cutting measures were recommended by a 12-member committee assigned to investigate ways the district could save money in its special transportation and activities budgets.By scaling back on the amount schools are subsidized for travel, and by selling unnecessary cars, the district should see a savings of between $50,000 and $70,000 in its maintenance and operation budget, said John Aland, district superintendent.

Beginning with the 1997-98 school year, 12 district schools were given a "base" allotment and credited a specified amount per student for special transportation - such as field trips, extracurricular activities and sporting events.

Altamont, Duchesne and Tabiona high schools each have a base of $8,500 and a credit of $43.85 per student. Union High will have a base of $5,000 and a credit of $43.85 per student. Elementary schools, the middle school and junior high were given a $500 base and a credit of $2.50 per student.

Once that money is gone, the schools are responsible for repaying the district $1.50 a mile for use of the buses.

"They will be given the money up front . . . when the money is gone the schools have to come up with $1.50 per mile if they want the buses to roll," Aland said.

Last year there was a shortfall of $30,000 in the district's special transportation budget because some schools had logged more miles than allotted and had not repaid the district the required 50 cents a mile. In the past the district had also paid all special transportation expenses incurred by elementary schools for field trips within the Uintah Basin. It won't do that anymore.

Duchesne and Altamont will be hit the hardest by the policy change because of the miles students must travel just to attend sporting events in their region, which was realigned this year.

The special committee - which was hand-picked for the job by board members last spring - also told district officials to get rid of some cars. Aland said that was definitely something that needed to be done.

Eleven cars have already been sold, and three to five more cars are scheduled to be put up for sale. Most of the cars were older models and brought an average of $650 a piece, he said.

Aland said the motor pool should be pared down to about 20 cars - including driver's education cars. About half of the cars in the district are used by the special education department, which provides ancillary services to different schools throughout the county.