SCHOOL NEWS: Staff changes, school bus contracts

School board approves donation, staff changes

The Brown County School Board of Trustees approved the following Dec. 21:

  • A $600 donation to buy coats and clothing for children.
  • Bus transportation for BETA participants to go to Hope for Hearts Farm on Jan. 23.
  • Separating Brown County Schools special needs bus driver Harlan King, effective Dec. 7. This was not a termination.
  • Separating Sprunica Elementary School paraprofessional Makenize Thomas, effective immediately. This was not a termination.
  • Appointing Brown County High School intense intervention paraprofessional Anastasia Petro, full-time with benefits, $11.25 per hour, effective Dec. 14. She is a replacement for Alissa Newlin.
  • Appointing BCHS assistant varsity boys track coach Connor Bell, $1,535 stipend, effective Feb. 12.
  • Appointing Brown County Intermediate School counselor Wendi Gore, part-time without benefits, $11,565.12, 22.5 hours per week, 56 school days for 2017-2018, effective Jan. 8. This is a new job funded by the school district’s counseling grant.
  • Appointing Helmsburg Elementary School preschool teacher Caroline Muller, full-time with benefits, $17.25 per hour, effective Jan. 8. This is a new job to meet the growing preschool class sizes at Helmsburg, Hammack said.
  • Transferring SES paraprofessional Sasha Robinson to intense intervention paraprofessional, $11.25 per hour, effective Jan. 8. She is a replacement for Jessie Spurgeon.

School board declines to change bus contract

The Brown County School Board of Trustees decided to wait on making any changes to the transportation contract for 2015-2019.

Earlier this month, Superintendent Laura Hammack said the district’s transportation department and a school board member were approached about changing how the age of a bus is calculated.

Currently, the age of the bus is determined by when it was manufactured. The proposed change would have calculated the age based on the date of the title.

When a bus is 12 years old, it has to be retired and a new bus must be purchased, Hammack said.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, board member Steve Miller Jr. said he had heard from a contractor who would have to buy a new bus by Jan. 1 if going by the manufacture date. If the bus age were the title date, that contractor would have another six months before he would have to buy a bus, he said.

After receiving feedback from contractors and bus drivers, the decision was made to not make any changes to the current contract, Hammack said.

“The primary reason for removing this item from the agenda is that the board entered into contract with our contractors with the specifications that were agreed upon at the beginning of the contract. The board agrees that it would not be reasonable to change any of the agreed upon specifications,” she said.

But the board wants to look at making the change during the next bidding process and is “very open” to changing it, Hammack said.

A few bus contractors were seated in the audience when the announcement was made. Charlie Wright said he approached the school district in October about using the title date for the school bus age. Wrights owns school buses used by the district.

“Here it is Dec. 22 and we have to try and replace school buses by Jan. 8, correct?” Wright asked. “I guess I need to get on the search for school buses. I wanted a couple of months if that was the case, but I understand.”

Bus contractor Lloyd Wagler said he would support going by the title date, too.

“If you go buy a 2017 car in 2018, is it not a new car to you? It’s put into service at that date,” he said.

Hammack said making a change to the contract now “opens a can of works.”

“When you change one specification now, what’s to say somebody in a couple of weeks wants to come and change something else? Then pretty soon we compromise the safety of our boys and girls. … We need to stick with the contract. We’re sorry this caused concern and heartburn for folks.”

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.