BRAWLEY –Brawley Union High School District board convened a joint school board meeting with feeder schools that provide the high school students. Westmorland and Brawley Elementary were the only two boards to participate Wednesday, October 24.
Besides easing the transition and keeping lines of communication open, ways to consolidate duplicate expenses were discussed. With shrinking budgets, all districts are scrambling to look at waste in their system and ways to pony with other districts to save money.
With transportation expenses being a significant portion of the budget, ideas were exchanged on combining routes. Many board members expressed dismay at seeing two nearly empty buses following each other on identical routes, but noting the buses were from different districts.
Since there were no action items on the agenda, only direction could be given to their superintendents. It was agreed to have the two Brawley district transportation teams meet, map out routes, and see if they could find ways to combine routes.
Westmorland was more concerned with the lack of a late bus to take Westmorland students back home. This limited many of them of playing sports and taking advantage of after school enrichment activities.
Elizabeth Moreno, Westmorland trustee, said, “When our kids are in sports, they keep their grades up and are more likely to stay in school.”
The age difference between elementary and high schoolers riding on the same bus were addressed, but as one trustee noted, “They use to ride together until they moved up and there was no trouble. They got along once, they can get along again.”
They eventually agreed to look into combining routes, an evening bus to Westmorland, a distribution of costs on combined bussing, and continuing their work together.
The other main issue was food services. Westmorland stated they were quite happy with their service. “We have Julie (Mitchell), we’re fine.”
Gloria Santillan, BESD trustee, brought up the duplication of the same paperwork that parents of elementary and high school parents need to fill out. Leslie Marshall, financial director of BESD, brought the lengthy discussion to an end by reminding the trustees that originals are required at each district office and the forms are different. “These are federal and state mandates.”
Ralph Fernandez, BUHS trustee, wanted the food service providers to look into bulk buying between the two districts and to see if that was possible, and if so, would the districts save money.
The three boards all shared ideas on increasing parent involvement. They all agreed it took personal outreach and parental incentives to bring parents into the fold. To help with outreach, they agreed to share each district’s information where applicable on electronic billboards, newsletters, and automated phone calls.
They will meet again in mid-January with Westmorland hosting.