WACO School Board takes bus north to Washington
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
WAYLAND — WACO School Board members jumped in with both feet Monday night.
Continuing its movement northward, the board approved sharing its transportation program with the Washington Community School District.
The two districts had been sharing a director of transportation for several years, but now Washington will administer WACO’s transportation program.
Monday night’s decision, however, did not come without considerable discussion before unanimously approving the 28E agreement.
“We need more numbers if I am going to approve something like this. They have to give us some numbers. What if it costs $50,000 more?” asked board member Todd Meyer. Meyer, following the release of some numbers which revealed transportation costs would remain basically the same, later made the motion to approve the 28E agreement.
Terms of the three-year agreement have WACO bus drivers becoming employees of the Washington Community School District. Woody Hardin, Washington and WACO transportation director, said current WACO regular route and substitute drivers “are more than welcome and encouraged to apply for driving positions with the Washington Community schools for the WACO District driving positions.”
Washington also will handle:
• All driver continuing education;
• Maintaining driver certifications and online records;
• Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals;
• New driver training (CDL) and setting up new drivers on the 17-hour online course;
• Online vehicle reporting (keeping vehicle list current and bus inspection repair reporting);
• Evacuation drills;
• Substitute drivers (providing them when needed);
• Driver evaluations.
WACO will continue to supply school buses for its routes. The district also would continue to have coaches transport teams to athletic events.
The district, however, is faced with a deteriorating fleet of buses. “We have been limping along and making it work,” Superintendent of Schools Pat Coen said regarding the buses. “A couple of the buses are rusted through and one has a blown head gasket. We have several that are over 10 years old. They are going to start bleeding us.”
Coen proposed leasing six buses from School Bus Sales of Cedar Rapids. He said the district, which needs nine buses for routes and activities, could lease six buses for $85,000 annually.
Money for the lease would be paid through the district’s School Infrastucture Local Option (SILO) tax receipts, noted Carrie Coble, school business manager.
“We have more than enough money to afford this,” Coble informed the board. She said the district receives between $300,000-$450,000 annually in SILO revenue.
The lease payment also could be made from the physical plant and equipment levy fund (PPEL) or a combination of SILO and PPEL funds, but Coble said there wouldn’t always be enough money in the PPEL account for the payment. Currently, the district’s PPEL balance is $126,000 which Coble said “is the highest since I have been here.”
Directors also were told that other school vehicles (vans, etc.) are running on borrowed time.
WACO board members also approved riverboat grant applications for a rubberized playground surface, enrichment activities and technology (1:1 initiative and laptop computers for faculty member).
Brandt Snakenberg, elementary school principal, told the board that there are technology infrastructure issues at the elementary school which need addressing.
“We have to improve our infrastructure at the elementary school and we have to decide where we want to go as a school. We just need a broader discussion on things we need at the elementary school, develop a plan for where we are at and where we are going,” he said.
Snakenberg said he will be organizing a committee to develop a plan for the elementary school and asked for a board representative. Director Gary Brose was drafted to serve on the panel.
The principal said the state is moving away from the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) for elementary-school students to a web-based assessment. He said current infrastructure at the elementary school could not handle the increased demand.
“We need a discussion not only on technology infrastructure needs but our broader needs. We need to discuss where we want to go before we jump down the rabbit’s hole,” Snakenberg remarked.
Directors also approved a one-year contract for Dr. Darrell Smith to serve as superintendent for the 2013-14 school year. Now retired, Smith, a Swedesburg resident, was WACO superintendent from 2002-2008. He will be made $25,000 for a minimum 100-day contract.
In other agenda items, the board:
• Approved the early graduation request of Virginia Trinkle. Trinkle is a junior but will have fulfilled graduation requirements at the conclusion of the school year.
• Approved the resignations of instructors Lynita Stambaugh and Ralph O. Kaufman III and cheerleading sponsor Tammy Sinn.
• Approved contracts for Millie Youngquist, musical director for the high school musical this spring; Bert Miller, quiz bowl sponsor; and Dyann Graber, special education teaching associate.
School board members meet again in regular session Monday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center at Wayland.