Several weeks ago, following the review of Kenyon-Wanamingo Schools’ transportation provider, Held Bus Service, recommended cuts to the bus routes stirred concerns on both sides.

But with the new school year potentially weeks away, Superintendent Bryan Boysen says the two sides have compromised, eliminating one route and taking the total number of routes from 12 to 11.

As the 2020-21 fiscal year budget needed to be approved by June 30, the district was in cost-cutting mode, and had to slice $443,000 from the budget, mostly due to the dropping student enrollment numbers and state aid that hasn’t kept pace with inflation.The board also wanted to increase its reserves — the balance left in a school district’s maintenance account, or checking account, less any accounts payable, at the end of the fiscal year — from 2% to 4%, meaning it needs to spend less to see an increase.

Although the routes have decreased, bus company owner Jon Held said several other routes have to be lengthened, since the number of students in need of rides hasn’t changed, there aren’t a whole lot of savings. Through van route adjustments and two other van route eliminations, Held says he has saved $172,000, just under $9,000 of the overall budgetary reduction amount of $163,000, which former Interim Superintendent David Thompson indicated was the minimum reduction the district was looking for.

Held Bus Service has contracted with the Kenyon and Kenyon-Wanamingo school districts for over 50 years, dating back to the late ‘60s when John Held’s father started the company.

As Boysen and Held look to work with each other in the future, one challenge stands in their way, the pandemic. As anticipation of the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education’s decision of how the format of the upcoming school year will look builds, Boysen says he eagerly awaits Thursday’s announcement and is keeping his fingers crossed, and as a parent himself, understands how many parents are feeling.

Added Boysen, “Any information we receive will take us at least a week to get details fine-tuned to roll out a plan, and get families prepared.”

Looking ahead to fall, following a discussion with Boysen, Held said, “We also agree 100%, that the referendum in November has got to pass, for the future of K-W Schools and for the children, it’s gotta pass.”

Several options for the operating levy were discussed at the July 27 K-W School Board meeting.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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