Mountain View bus contracts debated

BY VIRGINIA CODY

A debate about advertising four bus contracts took center stage at theMountain Viewschool board meeting last Monday night (July 11).

Questions were raised by several board members as to whether routes might be consolidated rather than continuing with the existing routes, a move that might save the district some money.

The issue was raised by business manager James Mirabelli who said that he was just notified that the drivers of four routes are retiring immediately.

“I’m looking to get direction from the board.  Normally, you would post internally, but seeing that there are four vacancies and time is very tight to reduce or reroute the buses, the best process is to replace all four routes,” Mirabelli said.

Board member Kevin M.  Griffithswas adamant that advertising all four openings saying that to do so would be “taking the easy way out.”

“Rerouting needs to be done more often,” he stated.  “If we do it now, we can decrease mileage and save money.  It’s easy to lay off teachers, why not bus routes?”

Mirabelli explained that he was merely trying to give the board options.

“With the current economy and the price of fuel, I think it’s going to be difficult to find people who want a contract,” he added.

A contract, he and other board members agreed, would require someone to invest approximately $84,000 in the purchase of a bus.  And since the contract is for just one year with no guarantee for future years, it is unlikely there will be many people interested.

Board member Gina Yarrish expressed concern that the drivers who had worked for the district for many years, had cancelled their contracts without any notice.  She requested that any contracts signed in the future include a notification clause.

Tom Stoddard, aLenoxTownshipresident in attendance, cautioned the board that the reason the drivers were retiring was because contracts do not have provisions that take the increasing cost of gasoline into account.

“Things are tough and the contracts have no fuel discussions.  There has to be some kind of provision about reasonable escalation of costs.  That will have an impact on who is going to want these contracts,” he said.

Griffithsrepeated his interest in going forward with rerouting and consolidating bus routes but was assured by Superintendent Andrew Chichura that there really wasn’t sufficient time to get that done.

In other district news, Chichura informed the board that due to the number of projected kindergarteners for the 2011-12 school year, he will be increasing the number of kindergarten classes to four and decreasing the third grade classes to three.

“This puts kindergarden at 18 students in a class and that will give them a better start,” he said.  “That means there will be a shift of a teacher of grade 3 to kindergarten to accommodate the kindergarten enrollment.”

Chichura said that at the present time he has 69 kindergarteners enrolled for the next term but expects those numbers to change slightly.

“We won’t really know until after Labor Day.  We won’t have an accurate number until then.”

On the maintenance side of the house,Taylorannounced that a water heater in one of the buildings is leaking into its burn chamber.

“It’s 20 some years old so I guess we’re going to have to bite the bullet and replace it,” he said.

The board approved a motion to advertise for bids on this effort but will also submit a request for reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Also on Monday’s agenda was the approval of a memorandum of agreement with the Mountain View Education Association to allow a district employee to work as an intern.

“This is for a degree and will benefit the district and the employee,” Chichura said.

The Memorandum of Understanding was approved by a 6-2 vote with one absent.

Dissenting board memberGriffithsexplained he voted no because the position was a “paid internship.”

In other personnel issues, the board declined to post an advertisement for an additional paraprofessional position in its high school autistic classroom.

The board also determined that the girls’ soccer assistant position would be filled by a volunteer assistant