The Benjamin Logan Board of Education approved the purchase of two new school buses at their Monday evening meeting, while also being briefed on changes taking shape in the school bus industry.
Members approved a motion to advertise and receive bids for the two 78-passenger buses through the META Solutions, and approved the lease/purchase of the buses through Rush Truck Centers of Ohio.
Superintendent John Scheu said the district has qualified for state grants totaling $45,000 for each bus, so the estimated $90,000 cost per vehicle would be cut in half.
Relating to upcoming shifts in the industry, Mark Fletcher from Rush Truck Centers offered the board an overview of alternative fuel buses and electric buses, which he noted will become more prevalent as emission standards continue to tighten around diesel-powered school buses.
Alternative fuel buses include those powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane, he said.
Electric school buses currently carry a hefty price tag, around $240,000 each, but Fletcher expects the prices to drop significantly in the near future. He noted that grant funding also is available for these type of school buses.
For districts that would pursue the electric bus route, they would also have to install battery charging stations as well, which can take months in planning for the installment.
Fletcher encouraged the board to develop a five-year plan regarding the type of buses the district wants to use in the future.
“What do you want to do in 2027?,” he asked. “It’s not something that you have to decide immediately, but it’s something that you should start to consider so you can plan ahead for those bus purchases.”
Also related to transportation needs, the board approved the purchase of a $58,742 mini bus from Cardinal Bus Sales & Service, to be paid through the district’s Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds. The bus is handicap accessible and includes a lift.
In personnel matters, members approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees relating to vacation days. The agreement states that classified staff will be able to accrue 0.87 vacation days per month.
Scheu said previously, classified staff members were restricted on using vacation days until they had been employed with the district for 12 months.
“Many schools have done away with this type of policy, and I think this needs to be addressed to be fair to our staff,” the superintendent said.
A Memorandum of Understanding also was approved with the Benjamin Logan Education Association relating to retire/rehire employees and their unused personal days. Those staff members who will not be rehired for the next school year are will be paid $100 for each unused personal day at the conclusion of the school year.
Other certified staff members also are able to be compensated $100 for unused personal days, or to convert the personal days into sick days once they have reached the end of the school year.
During the treasurer’s report, Treasurer Jennifer Sudhoff provided an overview of ESSER funds and district projects.
The ESSER funds were authorized by Congress as part of three COVID-19 relief
packages to help local school districts address needs and recover student
“learning loss” experienced by many pupils during the pandemic.
Benjamin Logan is receiving a total of $2,404,090.12 in these funds broken downas follows:
• $176,920.46 in ESSER I funds were received during fiscal year 2021, included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided PPE and supported technology during remote learning.
• $688,746.54 in ESSER II funds, being utilized during fiscal years 2021 and 2022, are from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), which the district utilized for HEPA filtration units to improve indoor air quality and educational technology (largely for the purchase of Chromebooks).
• $1,538,423.12 in ESSER III funds, which will be utilized across fiscal years 2022, 2023 and 2024, are from the American Rescue Plan Act.
For ESSER III funds, plans are to utilize the monies for: window replacement (estimated at $50,000), roofing repairs (approximately $89,000), district-wide flooring replacement (approximately $781,000), learning loss requirement (approximately $308,000) and transportation vehicles (approximately $180,000).
In other action, the board:
• accepted the retirement resignations of longtime staff members Ron Perry, bus driver, effective May 31, and Patty Price, educational aide, effective July 31,
• accepted the resignation of Sharon Larson, food service worker, effective July 31;
• approved the following classified contracts: Jonathon Clark, custodian, effective Feb. 16; and Larry Parmer and Lisa Stover, maintenance, both effective Jan. 31;
• extended supplemental contracts: Scott Wilson, head baseball; Brad Arn, assistant baseball; Quinn Morris, Jordy Buck, junior varsity baseball; Amanda Davis, head softball; Chuck Stevens, assistant softball; Clint Zedeker, junior varsity softball;
• approved the following volunteer coaches: Jeremy Burrey, Tony Griffith, assistant baseball; Tracy Flora, John Horsely, assistant softball;
• approved a student overnight trip to the Jazz Band Festival April 23 at the Michigan State University;
• approved a contract with the Madison Champaign Educational Service Center for fiscal year 2023 services for district pupils at the Mac-A-Cheek Learning Center;
• accepted the following donations: $100 from Kiwanis Club of Bellefontaine to the High School Robotics Club; $4,798.80 of outside Internet services during 2021 from Byhalian.net; 25 to 30 pairs of pants and hats, and gloves for elementary and middle school students from the Fun Company.
The next meeting is 6 p.m. Monday, March 21.