09/12/11 The Union-North School Board unanimously approved a request to hire two additional classroom aides. In making the request, Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker said that it was really a double request. The agenda item listed was a request for a kindergarten aide; however, Barker said there was also a need for an aide at theJr.-Sr.High Schoolfor a special needs student. Currently each of the three kindergarten classes has between 26-27 students, according to Barker. The aide that will be hired will be termed a “floating” aide among all three classes. Funding the positions will come from Title grants for class size reduction.
LaVille Elementary Principal John Farthing praised the kindergarten teachers for their work with the large number of students. He said, “It’s a real difficult assignment.” He added, “If we ever get a windfall of money, another teacher would be great.”
The board also approved implementing a voucher system to pay bus contracted drivers for extra miles they are driving due to road closings connected with the construction of the new US 31. The specific agenda read, “Due to the constant closing and opening of roads during the construction process for the new US 31, it is imperative to be able to adjust payment for extra mileage for the contracted bus driver to be paid by claims docket as needed, once additional miles have been verified. This will keep us from continuously adding addendums to bus driver’s contracts and allow the corporation to revert back to contracted miles as established in the bid process.”
Barker spoke in favor of using vouchers for extra miles saying, “If the miles get into the contracts, it’s harder to get them out.” Barker said vouchers would streamline the process.
After much discussion, the board voted to use a voucher system for the excess miles only. Board member Dennis Graf said he needed more of an explanation before voting. Graf said, “I don’t want, at this time, to give an open checkbook. I’d like to se it stay like it is.” He said, “In the transportation report that we were given a month ago, there are gaps in some miles.” Transportation Director, Lylah Swathwood said, “The routes are set up in areas. What I gave you was where students live, not the detour part.” She added, “The detour has been quite a setback for Union-North.”
Dave Grenert, board member said, “Then we’re not legally obligated to pay the extra miles?” Rob Swathwood, board, said, “You’ve got roughly three more years of this. They (drivers) do bid per day, not per mile.”
Lylah Swathwood went on to explain that she has been working with InDot (Indiana Department of Transportation ) either in meetings, by email or by phone to determine what detours may be coming up. She said, “InDot has been super in working with Union-North. They have really catered to Union-North and even have gravel turnarounds (where needed).”
Grenert asked how the amount of the extra pay would be determined. Barker indicated that the amount is calculated by the number of miles into the original dollar amount in a driver’s contract.
Grenert also asked if it would be possible to ask the state for the extra amount. Barker replied that he has already been working on seeking reimbursement, but added that he thought the chances of recouping money was “slim”.
Board President Mark Dickson was congratulated for being awarded the CAP pin for a Level 3 for the Indiana School Board Association. He will officially receive the award at a meeting of the association within the next few weeks.
Among the resignation listed was Barker, effectiveOctober 3, 2011. Barker has been hired by the School City of Mishawaka as superintendent. Also resigning were Susan Snead and Emily Snead, co-head cheerleading coaches, effective August 30 and Jillian Wirtz, junior high cheerleading coach, effective September 1.
Kasey Woods was appointed to the position of varsity cheerleading coach. Woods and Susan Krizmanich will be co-head coaches for the junior high 8th grade volleyball team.
Athletic Director Will Hostrawser informed the board that there is 36 percent of the student body participating in fall sports season. He thanked the Big Blue Athletic supporters for the donation of $7,000 raised during their annual golf outing.
Carol Anders Correspondent