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Bellaire, Shadyside schools may share services

October 11, 2011
By Mike Hughes , The Times Leader

BELLAIRE - School officials in Shadyside and Bellaire want to pool their resources in an effort to cut costs.

Members of the Bellaire and Shadyside school boards recently discussed the possibility of sharing some services between the two districts. The work session served as a starting point for the districts to help each other face the fiscal challenges ahead.

Bellaire Local School District officials will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a 1 percent income tax to move the district out of a state-declared fiscal emergency. The five-year measure would cover current expenses, and the tax would be assessed on the earned income of those who live within the district.

The district also is seeking renewal of a 3-mill levy for five years for capital improvements, and passage of the 1 percent income tax could prove difficult. Bellaire residents already voted down a similar income tax in May. Past property tax levies also were shot down at the polls.

Shadyside Local School District is listed in fiscal watch by the state of Ohio - a less serious designation than fiscal emergency, but still a sign of trouble.

To cut costs, the district has eliminated a few programs and positions in recent years. Some schools have separate administrators to oversee food service, building and grounds, maintenance and special education, but that is not the case in Shadyside. Such duties have been folded into the jobs of administrators at the district's three schools.

Shadyside has no drama department and no longer performs choral concerts. While the core subjects are still taught, board members said fine arts classes have suffered.

Bellaire, meanwhile, has a thriving drama department. And finding ways for interested Shadyside students to participate was just one of the numerous ideas discussed. The problem with many of those ideas, however, is that much of what Bellaire could provide would add to Shadyside's costs.

Consolidating transportation services was mulled, with Shadyside board member Eric Gartner noting he has seen a Shadyside bus traveling on a rural route pass a Bellaire bus transporting students in the same area.

"I wonder if there is a way we could provide a list of riders, plot it out on a map and possibly have a loop-type system," he said.

Officials also discussed sharing instructors for various advanced placement classes, allowing students to obtain college credit while still in high school.

"I'd like the idea of being able to provide those AP classes and possibly having a person go back and forth," Bellaire Superintendent Tony Scott said.

Shadyside Superintendent Terry Brinker noted Shadyside offered AP classes in the past, but when qualified teachers retired, the program was abandoned.

Attendees also considered a way for Shadyside to revive its volleyball program by renting time in Bellaire's gym for games, as that site is better suited for such events than Shadyside's gym.

"We've proven in the past we can work together," Gartner said. "We're only 5 miles apart. Instead of consolidate, we can collaborate."



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