Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
To buy or not to buy a bus
By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - School buses - new, old and wrecked - were the topic of discussion Monday night.
School board members continued a dialogue from March about the possibility of purchasing a 2013 school bus for $86,000. For the second time this year, the board agreed to wait due to limited funds.
Transportation director Brian Killian told board members the school has just one back-up bus following an early morning fiery car-bus crash one week ago on Fort Recovery-Minster Road. No injuries were reported, but the rear of the 84-passenger bus was charred when a car struck it and burst into flames.
"Until we get it fixed, if another one goes down, we're in a bind," he told the board.
Killian said the bus likely will be out of service for at least two months. He is looking into leasing a bus with the possibility of reimbursement from the insurance company. He noted the oldest bus in the fleet is a 16-year-old, 72-passenger vehicle that doesn't meet most route needs. It is used most often to transport students to and from sporting events, he said.
Board member Paul Moorman asked if school districts ever share buses when necessary.
"We probably could in an emergency; we've never done it before," Killian said, adding he would ask around.
If the district waits until next year to make the purchase, the cost will rise $5,000 to $6,000, in part due to new emissions standards going into effect in 2014, he explained.
District treasurer Glenn Miller said he doesn't want to drain the $120,000 in the school's permanent improvement fund, which mainly is used for technology upgrades. The levy account nets about $100,000 annually. Miller said he would consider advancing money from the general fund until property tax dollars arrive in January.
Moorman said he'd rather wait; other board members agreed.
"I just don't know if the timing is right for us," board president Bruce Miller said.
Killian said he would keep the board updated on the price and availability of 2013 models.
Killian noted the accident last week "re-affirmed that school buses are the safest vehicles on the road."
"The back seats were untouched" despite the severe fire damage to the rear of the vehicle, he said.
Marty Schmackers, who was driving the bus with two students aboard, was recognized at Monday night's meeting for her heroism. Superintendent Rod Moorman told the board Schmackers escorted the students off safely before going back to help the woman exit the car.
"That collision could have been a lot worse than it was," he said. "She went above and beyond the call of duty."
Rod Moorman presented Schmackers with a special St. Henry schools' pin, congratulated her and shook her hand.
A bus driver with the district for 23 1/2 years, Schmackers called the incident a "team effort by all" - including neighbors, first responders and firefighters.
"I have to say the good Lord was definitely with us ... We have to thank him," she said.
In other business, board members,
• accepted the resignation of food service director Darlene Koesters, who has worked at the school for 25 years. Her retirement is effective Feb. 28.
• approved a coaching contract for Lisa Brackman as eighth-grade girls basketball coach for the 2012-2013 school year.
• were asked if anyone wished to serve on a committee to develop a format for the future evaluation of teachers, as mandated by Ohio's Educator Evaluation System. Board member Russ Bensman volunteered.
• learned enrollment this year for all grades is 987, compared to 1,166 10 years ago.
• learned that students are still selling chocolate bars to raise funds for the upcoming eighth-grade Washington, D.C., trip. The candy bars cost $2 each; half the money goes toward the cost of the trip, which is nearly $600 per student.
• learned that 58 of the school's 150-plus high school juniors and seniors are enrolled this year in Tri Star Career Compact classes.
• held an executive session to discuss the possible purchase or sale of property but took no action.