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Board members still looking to replace problematic activity bus PDF Print E-mail

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

A used charter coach bus purchased by Chase County Schools for activity transportation two years ago has been problem-filled, especially the past year.
It’s been out of use for the most part since last December, when it stalled after taking the high school basketball teams to Cozad for their first games of the season.
At Tuesday’s monthly meeting, CCS board members continued their discussion on the direction they should take to replace it, whether to stay with the costly, more-comfortable coach bus model or purchase a Bluebird activity bus that may not be as comfortable but likely more reliable.
Willy O’Neil, who is on the school board’s transportation committee, asked fellow board members Tuesday for some direction or authority to take action as a committee.    
“This needs to be figured out. We’ve been going in circles,” O’Neil said.
In discussions with Masters Transportation in Kearney, from whom the 2008 BCI (Bus Coach International) unit was purchased, O’Neil said offers have been made to take it back as a trade-in on purchase of another coach bus. However, an initial offer of $70,000 dropped later to $50,000. Masters brought out a used coach bus for school officials to look at this summer.
Board members also looked at a 42-passenger Bluebird activity bus Wednesday morning this week, brought to Imperial from Holdrege.
Currently, plans are to advertise the 2008 BCI online for sale, said Supt. Brad Schoeppey. Outside of Masters, other bus dealers have not been interested in taking the BCI as a trade-in, he said.
The 2008 BCI was purchased by CCS as an activity bus in September 2012 for $150,000. The 57-seat unit had 240,000 miles on it at the time, but indication was given then that coach buses could run for a million miles. Two smaller CCS busses were also traded in on the purchase.
Board members indicated Tuesday night they may have to schedule a special meeting to make a bus purchase decision to get the process moving.     
O’Neil said his preference was the Bluebird activity unit, which he said could also be used as a back-up route bus.
Several board members said they would support the recommendation from the transportation committee, which ever bus it suggests. However, board member Sheila Stromberger, also on the transportation committee, said it’s been difficult for the committee to come up with a recommendation “because everyone is all over the place,” concerning new vs. used, storage capacity, size and cost.
“It’s a big commitment,” she said.
“Do we buy a coach bus just to get the BCI off our hands (as a trade-in)?” she asked.
If they settle on a Bluebird model, estimated to cost between $150,000 and $160,000, it wouldn’t arrive until December or January.
Used coach buses usually are more expensive. Purchasing a new coach bus has been out of consideration, based on discussions at earlier meetings, as they cost upwards of $500,000 each.
A special board meeting is set for 8 a.m. Friday on the bus issue.
Coaches, others hired
A slate of coaches and a teacher’s assistant were hired in a unanimous vote Tuesday.
The hirings included:
Alexandria Rettele as high school volleyball asst. coach. A newly-hired teacher, Rettele teaches 9-12 English and speech team coach.
Jeff Gleisberg as high school girls’ basketball asst. coach and freshman class sponsor. Also newly-hired, Gleisberg teaches 7-12 industrial arts.
Lesley Nordhausen as junior high head volleyball coach.
Rachel Maxwell as junior high asst. volleyball coach.
Lynn Luhrs as cheerleading coach, replacing Audrey Meeske, who resigned.
Patty Fulton as part-time teacher assistant in the kindergarten classes to help with reading. Hers is a newly added position.
In separate action, the board also approved election of Angie Dickey, Jacci Paisley, Becky Odens and Sharon Waggoner as members of the school’s Response To Intervention Team (RTI).
A RTI team has been in place in the past, but Elementary Principal Susie Stewart asked that they receive a stipend this year due to the number of hours team members spend.
Supt. Schoeppey said there is stipend money designated for reading coaches in the budget that is not assigned to anyone this year. Since that is a negotiated item in teacher contracts, he checked with IEA rep. Jason Speck and said Speck felt comfortable with using that money for the RTI stipends.
However, while they said they had no problem with changing use of those funds, several board members didn’t feel comfortable moving ahead without a written statement from IEA.
In the end, the board approved 9-0 the stipends of $619 per RIT member pending receipt of written approval from the IEA.
Annual report out
Board members looked over the 2013-14 CCS annual report, a Rule 10 requirement by the state to be published.
Supt. Schoeppey said it has a lot of good information in its five pages, including attendance numbers over the years, test scores/comparisons, race/ethnicity numbers, students involved in the English Language Learners program, percent in special education and per-pupil costs.
The report was expected to be placed on the school’s website this week.