CENTRAL VALLEY-The Monroe-Woodbury began the 2005-06 budget process last week by receiving reports on transportation, maintenance, health and safety, media and computer literacy. The next budget review will be Feb. 16, followed by Superintendent Frank Moscati's preliminary recommendation on March 9. Here's a review of the reports from last week's session: Transportation The most drastic requests came from the transportation department which is requesting a slight budget increase from $3,505,900 to $3,555,900. The issues the department is facing were old as well as new, according to the man in charge, Ken Dawford. The 150 buses in the fleet cannot fit into the bus garage which, in the past few decades, has far outgrown its means. Many sit in the yard during the night and this has slowly damaged the engine and other internal parts, especially in regards to the drastically cold weather. The road salt was slowly wearing away at the interior of many buses at such a degree that 6 year old buses are already in need of parts replacements. Aside from the bus problems, there was the issue of an outdated base station as well as a broken bus washer. In response to these problems, Dawford said he is requesting to shift bus replacement from a 14-year cycle to a 12-year cycle. He is also looking to purchase 19 new buses of varying size and capability for the upcoming year which cost anywhere between $100,000 and $86,000. This request would meet safety as well as environmental issues. Each morning, he said, a white cloud of diesel emissions rises from the valley housing the bus garage. All new 2007designed buses would produce only 5 percent of the emissions that buses producenow. A second reason for purchasing new buses would be to replace outdated buses which require starter fluid to start in the morning as this application is regarded as a last resort for starting buses. New buses would not require lengthy amounts of time to warm up their engines in the morning which further decrease emissions from the valley, he said. Additionally, this would save on fuel costs which have risen drastically in the past year. The fuel budget last year was set to pay for $1.23 per gallon. The actual cost has far surpassed expectations and risen to $1.64. Dawford noted that state aid refunds just over half of the transportation budget following each year. Energy The energy costs which were drastically affecting transportation were not limited to that one department also impacted the budget for operations and maintenance. Dick Roberts, who directs Operations and Maintenance for the district spoke highly of the accomplishments made by his team in recent years. The purchase of machinery in recent years which provided for more efficient cleaning, fulfilling a clean for health policy allowed for a 48 percent decrease in management funds from $145, 620 to $75,820. One section which had increased was utilities. This increase from $3,060,500 to $3,233,000 was cited as the result of an increase in energy prices even though all schools have the ability to switch between gas and oil depending on which market is better. All in all, operations and maintenance is seeking only a minor raise from $5,212,155 to $5,380,967. Computer literacy In the technological sector, the computer literacy budget has decreased slightly as a result of a decrease in software expenditures. In the past year all 3,500 school computers have been attached to the school network and feature online options. Older computers have been replaced and upgraded and Smart-board systems as well as power point have been made available in classrooms where teachers use the programs regularly. The computer literacy category is seeking only $861,879 which is down from last years $884,098. Media The Media department has also placed a separate budget request which has increased slightly since last year. This sector is responsible not only for purchasing books, but also any library and learning equipment such as projectors and tape recorders. It is estimated that about half of this budget would be returned to the school from the state as that portion would be considered under categorical aid. This state aid which is provided for library materials allots $6 per pupil when an average library book costs about $19. As the state increases educational demands, greater pressure is placed on the library system. The department is therefore requesting $445,364 which is up slightly from the $437,146 requested last year.