Transportation themes discussed by School Board

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Passenger van may be considered for small group trips

By Ashley Zsedenyi

Monday night’s school board meeting heard many issues – some discussed in previous meetings, some with additional information, some with repeat requests for information.

Board member Norbert Skees discussed the recent committee meeting regarding the policy for student transportation to and from school-sponsored events. The committee, which consisted of Misty Bivens, Rodney Armes, Gary Canter, Paul Childress, Eric Cecil, David Dawson, Rip Collins, Jaime Smith, Jennifer Keith, board chairman Ronnie Chelf and Skees, agreed on the following policy:

“The Board of Education will provide transportation to and from off-campus or away games or for other school-sponsored activities or events. Participating students must use board-provided transportation, unless at the discretion of the coach or sponsor and with written permission from the parent/guardian, may travel to or from the ‘game’ or event in a privately owned vehicle. In such cases, the parent/guardian must sign the board’s standard release form, releasing the student from the requirement to ride board-provided transportation.”

Skees said the only thing the committee did not decide on was the “standard release form,” but said the form should not be difficult to develop.

School board attorney Ronald Mather said the forms are “worth having,” but they would not release the school board of liability in the case of an accident.

Armes said one concern was regarding students who are 18-years-old, whether the policy would apply to them.

Skees said as long as they are students in LaRue County Schools, the same policies apply to them, regardless of age.

Board member Price Smith asked if the board provides transportation, does that mean the board will incur the cost of transportation.

“I think so,” Skees said.

Sanders said he would take the policy recommendation to the Kentucky School Board department, have the legal team look at it, and bring a suggested policy to next month’s board meeting for review.

Skees said the committee also looked at the need to purchase a smaller van to alleviate the need for CDL-certified drivers and a full-size bus for small groups or teams.

Phil Fulkerson said the biggest van a public school can purchase is a nine-passenger or the driver would need to have a CDL.

Skees said several on the committee said a van would be a great help to many smaller groups, but would depend on the affordability.

Skees also said he contacted the Kentucky Center for School Safety, an organization that makes visits to schools to complete safety assessments. He said the group last came in 2003 and would be able to come do assessments at both elementary schools to evaluate the traffic safety issues either by the end of the school year or in the fall, depending on the urgency of the situation. He also said the request must come from the superintendent.

Sanders said he would “be glad” to have the group come.

Skees suggested getting a quote from the KSB Insurance Trust to make sure the district is getting the best price.

He also asked LCHS principal Paul Mullins if a change in the schedule format at the high school has been looked at, since some area schools are changing to a trimester format to expose students to as many subjects as possible.

Mullins said there is no plan to change the current six-period school day and that most schools in neighboring districts are on a similar schedule.

Skees said he has requested reports from food services and from transportation since his first meeting as a board member in January, and has yet to receive them.

Sanders said a food service report had been sent to him, but Skees said he requested for the reports to be presented monthly during the board meetings.

Skees said the schools need to be environmentally friendly by eliminating Styrofoam trays and cups. He also asked why the majority of foods served in schools are processed foods and he questioned the cash surplus in food service at the end of the year.

His transportation request was for a report that showed different bus route options to eliminate excessive amounts of time spent by students on school buses.

Sanders asked Skees if he had visited the bus garage to discuss his transportation issues, and Skees said he had.

“My only purpose for sitting on this board,” Skees said, is for the students and their parents, and for “taxpayers to get what they pay for.”

“I’m asking for actions and answers,” he said.

Sanders asked Skees how many times he had asked questions about food service and transportation at board meetings since his initial request.

Skees said he hadn’t asked any questions, but had requested the reports at every meeting since January.

Sanders said he has reviewed tapes of previous board meetings and Skees seems to “ask a lot of questions, but doesn’t seem to listen to the answers.”

Sanders said Styrofoam would not be used in schools next year in an effort to “be more green,” but that it would be used at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School because the school has a Somat pulper –  a machine that grinds refuse into tiny bits. He then presented a detailed food service report during the meeting, outlining revenue, expenditures and successes of the food service program.

“If you have any other questions (about the report), you can contact Mrs. Sanders,” Sanders said.