Education

Mascoutah District 19 votes to alter boundaries, reduce bus service

A majority of students living within a mile and a half of their public school in Mascoutah will no longer be eligible for bus services next school year.

Mascoutah District 19 Board of Education discontinued bus service for all high school and most middle and elementary school students living within a mile and a half of their school at its meeting Tuesday night.

About 220 pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students who live in the Hunters Creek subdivision or on nearby streets will continue to be bused to school next school year as their route was determined to be hazardous by school board members.

Superintendent Craig Fiegel said County Road can be considered hazardous for younger students as it only has a sidewalk down one side of the street. In the future, the city of Mascoutah does plan to add a sidewalk to the other side, he said.

Discontinuing bus service for students living within a mile and a half of their school was proposed by Fiegel as a way to reduce transportation costs for the district. The state of Illinois does not reimburse school districts for transporting students who live close to their school. In addition, districts that do bus students who live within a mile and a half must pay a penalty to the state.

“Ultimately, our goal is to create safer walking paths to school and reduce transportation costs,” Fiegel said. The transportation cost savings is estimated to be about $300,000.

Board members also unanimously approved altering school boundaries at its meeting Tuesday to accommodate construction of the district’s new school — Wingate Elementary in Shiloh.

The following subdivisions make up the school boundaries for Wingate Elementary — The Orchards, Plum Hill Estates, Brook Haven, Green Mount Manor and Wingate.

Expected enrollment at the new school will be between 270 and 300 students. Fiegel said between 11 and 14 current teachers from both Scott Elementary and Mascoutah Elementary schools are being reassigned to the new school.

Following a lengthy discussion and two failed motions, board members voted 5-1 to issue up to $9.85 million in additional general-obligation school bonds for a period of 25 years for the purpose of building and equipping Wingate School and providing for the levy of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the principal and interest on the bonds.

Board member Randy Renth cast the dissenting vote. He said he was in favor of a longer term, preferably 40 years, in an effort to maintain the district’s cash flow.

Terry Gibbons, assistant superintendent of business and operations, said taxpayers within the district will not see an increase in their annual property taxes as a result of the bond issuance.

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