Reading intervention, gifted programs, extracurricular activities, art and music programs, and transportation for high school students were restored to Westerville City Schools 2012-2013 budget by the board of education April 23.

Reading intervention, gifted programs, extracurricular activities, art and music programs, and transportation for high school students were restored to Westerville City Schools 2012-2013 budget by the board of education April 23.

The board voted unanimously to bring back $7.3 million of the $23 million in programs that were cut following the district's failed levy bid in November.

The restorations were possible because of a five-year, 6.71-mill operating levy passed by voters March 6. That levy will raise $16.54 million annually for the district, though only six months of collection will take place in the 2012-2013 budget.

As promised, the district "reimagined" programs to bring back reduced versions of eliminated programs.

For example, only 24.7 of 55.85 full-time employees cut from the art and physical education departments were spared.

To accommodate the reduction in staff, specialists in art, music, physical education and technology would serve all the district's elementary schools, and art classes will be integrated into regular classes.

In the high schools, material currently taught in multiple art courses will be combined into fewer courses.

In an attempt to reduce the impact of extracurricular activities on the general fund by 50 percent, pay-to-participate fees will more than double.
Fees for high school athletes will increase from $100 to $240 and for middle school athletes from $50 to $120. The fees would be charged per student per sport, and there will be no family or individual caps.

For nonathletic extracurricular activities, there will be a $15 fee at the middle school level.

At the high-school level, students will be charged $15 for clubs and $50 for music and theater programs.

High school transportation will be restored to the state-minimum standards imposed on kindergarten through eighth grades, with students who live more than two miles from school being bused, and students having to walk up to a half-mile to bus stops.

The district is talking to parents and staff at each school to determine if there are areas that also should receive transportation, said Superintendent Dan Good.

One program that was restored entirely was the non-Title reading intervention programs for elementary-school students.

All six previously cut reading intervention positions were returned. The district put reading intervention programs as its highest priority for restoration because students who do not read by third grade are much more likely to not graduate from high school.

Programs for gifted students also were given high priority.

Good said the district's programs could see some relief from the planned cuts, since negotiations set to take place this summer could lower costs elsewhere to allow more money to be spent on programs.

"Related arts took a big hit, and we've had much discussion about that," he said. "This is an item that does appear in the contract. There may be ways to do more that we haven't articulated here as an outcome of the negotiations that will occur this summer. We have to move forward as if nothing will happen."