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Thursday, September 12th, 2013

St. Marys board reinstates full busing

District gains more money due to state funding changes

By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Full busing for St. Marys City Schools will be reinstated Sept. 30.
School board members approved the measure at their regular meeting Wednesday night. The action comes after the district learned recently about a state funding change that would give the school $551,856 if it offered full busing and $352,883 if it maintained state minimum transportation.
The cost of reimplementing full busing is about $140,000.
Ohio School Board Association's Senior Transportation Coordinator Pete Japikse in August told board members the recent funding change comes from a new state formula based on total miles traveled and the number of students who ride the bus.
The state will determine St. Marys' funding by calculating the number of riders and miles during the first week of October. The district needed to have busing reinstated by then.
The board had approved reducing busing to state minimum - no busing for high school students or students living within two miles of the school - after the combined property and income tax levy failed in May.
Resident Jerry Rupert told board members at the meeting that he was disappointed they waited two weeks to implement the plan instead of doing so immediately after learning of the additional funding.
Superintendent Shawn Brown told the newspaper the board waited because it takes time to recreate the bus schedule and set up drivers with the appropriate routes. Brown said he worked with transportation supervisor Dan Grothause to make sure everything was ready by Wednesday's meeting.
Grothause will send out letters today to affected families explaining the new schedule, Brown said. This will give parents time to contact the school before Sept. 30 if any errors have been made.
In other business, both Rupert and resident Kim Morlino spoke of an incident that had occurred during the freshmen football game against Bath High School on Monday at the new artificial turf football field, during which a Bath player suffered a neck injury.
"As a football mom, I am fully aware that I take the risk of my son getting injured at every practice and every game," Morlino said. "Somebody explain to me why the first thing considered when putting in that turf field wasn't ambulance access. Sitting in the stands praying for this young man and his family and watching as the ambulance had to stop at the road and discuss the best route to get into the field … and then seeing what appeared to be the ambulance (coming) up the path between the field house and the field goal. The gate should be easy access."
Morlino called the incident a travesty and said school officials need to implement a plan of action in the same way tornado and fire drills are practiced.
Brown said he spoke with Bath school officials and the parents of the injured player and asked how they thought the school handled the situation. Both parties were happy with the outcome, he said, adding nothing more could have been done to help the situation.
Board member Brian Little said he will schedule a buildings and grounds committee meeting to discuss the possibility of purchasing an all-terrain vehicle for transporting injured athletes.     Little said the athletic department has been using an old utility Gator and has been requesting a new vehicle for several years. The Gator wasn't used on Monday because it was out for repairs. However, it wouldn't have been used anyway because the athlete had a neck injury, he added.
"I realized there is much more of a need for that kind of thing than I thought," Little said.
He said a committee meeting will be scheduled in the near future to discuss types of vehicles and prices, and he hopes to present a completed report to the board during their next regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in the high school auditorium.
Morlino and Rupert also asked about the condition of Skip Baughman Stadium. They said the grass is dead in many areas and the ground is so hard it increases the risk of injury.
Brown said the sprinkler system was malfunctioning but now is fixed. School maintenance employees also fertilized, treated for bugs and will aerate and seed the dead areas. He hopes the field will be green by the next home game in two weeks, he said.
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