2009-04-30 / Local & State

So. Fulton To Modify Future Bus Contracts

District's Scholastic Scrimmage team to participate in national competition
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Pending further review from the district's solicitor, the Southern Fulton School Board tentatively accepted a list of proposed modifications last week prepared by the superintendent pertinent to future requests for transportation proposals as well as bus contract extensions and inspections.

Superintendent Ralph Scott publicly stated the suggested changes could reduce or eliminate reoccurring transportation issues that have been brought to the board in recent years. Scott added his administrative proposal could either be "accepted, rejected or modified."

Presented at the board's April 21 meeting, the proposal states all future requests for proposals for regular transportation routes will be advertised as being submitted as a percentage of the state reimbursement formula for a period of five years. After completion of the five years, the rate will be at 100 percent of the state formula.

In addition, the proposal further relates all other current regular bus routes that have not already been extended and all future bus routes will be extended by two years for a total of 17 years. However, in order for the two-year extension to take effect, contractors cannot request or accept fuel adjustments during the remaining term of the contract; a contract termination notice of 120 days is required; and contractors will be required to submit to a third official bus inspection during the last two years of the contract at an inspection site and time to be selected by the district.

Outlining his thoughts on the additional bus inspection, the superintendent noted for safety purposes they wanted to ensure the inspection was not a "lick it and stick it" situation by personally selecting the participating inspector. Board member Kenny Wuertenberg added the district could possibly pay the $35 bus inspection fee for the extra inspection.

Board member Ed Yates noted he didn't think the district should be involved in the inspection process, but added that he felt the overall proposal was "tremendous." However, local contractor Dave Smith of D&K Transportation did state he would personally be willing to undergo the additional inspection if it meant extending his contract by two years.

Scott also suggested that the newly proposed modifications should not apply to the extracurricular activities run, and existing bus contracts below 100 percent of the state formula for reimbursement be moved to 100 percent over the next three years. Action during the April 21 meeting, according to the superintendent, would not imply that future boards would be obligated to follow the same practice.

The proposed modifications were approved on a 7-1 roll-call vote but are subject to final review by the district's solicitor. Yates voted against the proposal based on the additional inspection. Fellow board member Richard Mosemann was unable to attend the monthly meeting.

Curriculum

With board approval, the district's Scholastic Scrimmage team will now be travelling to Chicago, Ill., to participate in the national competition scheduled for May 29-31. The team has already won four matches to date and was slated to participate in the state finals held at State College April 28. Scrimmage participants include Elaina Truax, Daniel Wolfe, Ellie Mundale, Steven Meyer and Nathan Keebaugh.

Cost to participate in the national tourney has been calculated at $1,900. Money for the trip was taken from the high school principal's account.

Herb Brambley, environmental and technology teacher for grades K-6, shared with the administration and board his use of the annual Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska as a teaching tool in various curriculum areas such as science, geography and math. Recently selected as Target's Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, Brambley is scheduled to fly by bush plane to remote Alaskan villages during the 2010 Iditarod to meet with teachers and students, deliver books and share his multitude of talents with locals.

Speaking on behalf of the board and administration, district Superintendent Scott stat- ed the Teacher on the Trail judges surely "picked the right guy" for the adventure.

In regard to future plans for the district's nature trail, board member Yates stated he had spoken to Greg Reineke of the Fulton County Conservation District regarding the district's acreage and how much land would be needed for the entire trail. Yates added correspondence sent by the administration to the board was not completely factual in detailing the conversation between Reineke and himself. Yates stated he was fully supportive of the establishment of the trail but didn't feel the need to utilize all 134 available acres for the project.

The 2009-10 school calendar was adopted as presented.

Finance

In reviewing a proposed resolution to offer the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program within the district boundaries in hopes of enticing businesses to moving into the area, the board made reference to the last LERTA program involving the district. Member Kenny Wuertenberg specifically cited one Brush Creek Township business along Route 30 that received the tax break incentives offered through the program but likely did not result in the creation of any new jobs. A lack of "policing" participating businesses was also brought up by the board.

Board member Patrick Bard said on the "upside," LERTA could encourage companies to locate along the I-70 corridor. In turn, the new business would ultimately lead to additional tax revenue and job creation.

Those voting against the adoption of the resolution on a 3- 5 roll-call vote were Wuertenberg, Yates, John McKee, Donald Whiteside, and Tim Mellott. In favor of the LERTA resolution were board members Patrick and Dwight Bard and Danny Crouse.

The general operating budget for Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 was approved for the upcoming 2009-10 school year. Scott noted the district's share of the budget has remained steady at $3.85 per student for multiple years.

In accordance with bid specifications, a bid totalling $3,400 from PDS Remodeling and Construction was accepted for the local company to repair damage to the track retaining wall. Scott stated in sharing the news on the seven bids received for the project, the bids ranged from $19,750 down to $3,400 with most of the lower bids being from area companies. A total of $20,000 had previously been budgeted for these repairs.

Personnel

With regret, the board accepted a letter of resignation from Justin Sholes as assistant director and stage manager.

Dr. Walter Curfman of the Forbes Road School Board, Karen Y. Fish (Juniata Valley) and Philip C. Nash from Mifflin County School District received unanimous approval to serve as school board representatives on the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit's Board of Directors. Each of the three, if receiving final approval across the Intermediate Unit area, will serve a three-year term of office.

Sharon Knable was granted authorization to serve as a substitute aide during the remainder of the current school year.

Transportation

A bus stop ahead sign will be placed at the Todd Ritz residence located at 1970 Lehman Road as a result of transportation concerns.

At the conclusion of the board's meeting, the group met in executive session to discuss personnel and negotiation matters. Board member Danny Crouse voted against the session.

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