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Union North Transportation Fund Close to Red

December 9, 2011

 12/12/11 Transportation costs for the Union-North United School Corporation became a topic of discussion at the school board’s meeting on December 8 after they received notice from Treasurer Debbie Rubesha that the fund will be $55,570 in the red by the end of 2011. Rubesha was not at the meeting, but in correspondence to board members she indicated that she had originally anticipated that the Transportation Fund would be in the black by some $45,400.

Transportation Director Lylah Swathwood had just finished her annual report to the board when Board Member David Grenert questioned her on the matter. Swathwood said, “In the future, I would like to see some of our routes go corporation.” The Corporation owns some buses and routes that are that are part of the school system and several others that are contracted out on four-year contracts to private drivers. She added, “I do believe some of our smaller routes could be combined.”

Board member Dennis Graf asked that Rubesha attend the next board meeting to help explain how the fund is in a negative position. Graf said, “This is way out of whack this early in the school year.”

LaVille Elementary Principal John Farthing said they have tried to help with expenses associated with field trips. Farthing said, “We are not rubber stamping field trips.” He went on to explain that students pay fifty cents for trips and that the PTO is helping with a donation.

After the meeting, Swathwood said she was not on the committee that contracted with drivers and only drove proposed routes at the request of former superintendent Larry Phillips.

Grenert said he had been on the committee along with others, including Mark Dickson and Chuck Phillips. Grenert said they had made a recommendation of a budget that was under $500,000. He said when the recommendation went to the board at that time, they re-did the routes. He said, “Ask someone on the board at that time why it was changed.”

Dickson was on the board then, but said he could not remember all of the details from three years go. He did indicate that there was only one extra bidder for routes leaving them without many choices.

During her report, Swathwood had said the corporation has not had a new bus since 2008. She said, “We are out of rotation and all of the buses are out of warranty.” She suggested that the board include the purchase of at least one new bus in the next budget. Bus replacements fall under the Bus Replacement Fund that is anticipated to end 2011 with a balance of $137,713.

Swathwood had been a supervisor in the Transportation Department for more than ten years, when the position of Director was added in 2008.

In other matters, the board entertained policy action items on first reading. Interim Superintendent Julie Lauck had informed the board at the last meting that there were several policies that had been recommended by NEOLA that needed to be looked into.

NEOLA specializes in helping school systems with Board Bylaws and Policies, Administrative Guidelines/Procedures. Forms, students/parent handbooks and staff handbooks. Topics included in the revisions include the following: Purchasing, series of meetings, leaves of absence, school safety, special meetings, military service, field and other corporation sponsored trips, Special Education Preschool Fund and public records.

Graf asked that one of the policies concerning the amount that a superintendent can spend without board approval (discretionary) be changed. Graf asked that the amount of $25,000 for emergencies that would affect the daily activities of the school be allowed. He further asked that all other purchases be brought before the school board.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for December 22, if needed. Meetings dates for 2012 include January 12 and January 26.

Carol Anders Correspondent

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