Teutopolis Unit #50 School District is considering the addition of a new morning bus route for Teutopolis Grade School. The board of education discussed the prospect at their Thursday meeting. The proposal includes one early route for participants in the St. Francis Religion classes and one later for students who are not in the program. Buses were originally taking all grade school students to class early for the religious program whether they participated or not. The district changed the policy after the ACLU threatened litigation. Now, buses drop off all Teutopolis students a maximum of 15 minutes before the school day starts.
However, the local parish has proposed a new option, saying that they might pay for the additional bus routes so that tax dollars would not be used. Superintendent Bill Fritcher said from an administrative perspective it would be tough to pull off, but not impossible. “It seems a little bit awkward to try to operate and run the two different bus routes in the morning,” Fritcher said. “It would take an extremely high level of communication to make sure that we’re getting our students where they need to be.”
Fritcher discusses the morning transportation issue.
Adding the new bus route is estimated to cost the district an additional $80,000-$100,000, plus additional wear and tear on the fleet. Thursday was the first time that figure had been communicated to a St. Francis representative. As of now, the church has not committed paying that amount. Fritcher also said that the district would need to seek legal council before making any changes that could impact their agreement with the ACLU. No action on this was taken on Thursday, but the board will discuss, and possible make a decision, on adding the new bus route at February’s meeting. The board and superintendent are seeking feedback on the issue. The unit office can be reached at 217-857-3535.
In other action, the board voted to approve an amendment requesting that a 1% sales tax referendum be added to the April Consolidated Ballot. Fritcher says that the district could bank around $1.2-1.4 million if the referendum passes. That revenue would be used for infrastructure.
“We have significant work that needs to be done on our high school building,” Fritcher stated. “Right now we anticipate that the revenue we would generate from that would need to be used to get our high school facility upgraded.”
Fritcher on the tax referendum.
It will be up to the public to decide if the tax referendum becomes law in April.