MV afterschool buses lack support

BY TOM FONTANNA

Correspondent

With no bids for a shuttle bus to Clifford, and only one each for service to Harford/So. Gibson and Brooklyn/Hop Bottom, the Mountain View school board is holding off on a decision to provide transportation for students who participate in afterschool activities.

At the board meeting on Monday night, Sept. 24, district business manager Janice Finnochio said that results from a student use survey sent home a few weeks ago was inconclusive.

“It’s hard to determine what student daily use of the shuttle service would be,” Finnochio explained. “Many survey forms came back without listing what activity the student was participating in. So it could be just for a fall/winter sport or a spring sport or both. It’s hard to give an estimate of how many students would be on the buses on a daily basis (throughout the school year).”

The survey did show that more students would ride the bus to the Clifford area than to the other two locations (88 to Clifford), but no transportation contractors submitted bids for the Clifford run advertised earlier this month.

“I would need to know what the costs are compared to use before making a decision on providing shuttle service,” stated board member Dava Rinehart-Cowan. “I’d rather wait until tutoring starts afterschool, and spend $20,000 to $30,000 on buses for those kids instead of for sports. Sports is only an extra. After all, we’re here to learn.”

Superintendent Francine Shea commented that she feels participation in extracurricular activities might increase if shuttle bus service was available.

After the meeting, board president Todd Adams said that he feels participation in non-sports afterschool activities, such as student government and elementary school events, have suffered with the lack of shuttle bus service, and afterschool detentions had to be eliminated in the past few years when shuttle service was no longer available.

In another matter related to sports, Finnochio informed the board that under the federal Title 9 law, school districts will be required to submit information on sports participation by gender, race, and how funds are used.

“They want to know how many students in grades 7-12 participate in sports, broken down by race and the number of boys and girls,” she said.  “They also want to know how much money is spent on each team, including the coaching staff, uniforms, travel and improvements to athletic facilities.  It’s pretty involved.”

She pointed out that the information will be for 2012-13, and due by October 2013, so the district should start keeping records of this information immediately.

“Starting with the 2013-14 school year,” she added, “booster clubs will also be required to account for their expenditures.”

Title 9 will also require districts to provide a history of its athletic programs for at least the last three to five years, documenting what sports have been available to students and what programs have been eliminated.

Title 9 was established in 1972 to make school districts accountable for providing equal opportunities in sports for female and racial minority students.

In other business, Daniels Construction of Kingsley was awarded the snow removal contract for the 2012-13 school year, at $72 per hour.

Board director Roy Twining requested that the company also clear the traffic circle at the music wing of the high school, and the unpaved parking lot used by faculty and students behind the school.

District maintenance supervisor Bob Taylor said his department has been clearing those areas in past years.

Twining suggested, “It may take the contractor a little longer and add to the cost, but it will free up our maintenance crew for other work.” The maintenance crew will continue to clear and salt sidewalks.

RGM Hardwood, Inc. of Moscow was awarded the wood fuel contract for the 2012-13 school year at $40 per ton.  Mirabito Fuel Group, Binghamton, was awarded the fuel oil contract for 2012-13, at a fixed rate of $3.31 per gallon.

Five candidates were approved for the nurse substitute list.  When board director Ellen Aherne asked why there were so many applications, Shea said many were former school nurses whose jobs were eliminated in other districts because of budget cutbacks.

Shea also informed the board that a cyber charter school would be ‘popping’ up in the district, called Three Cord, Inc., of York, Pa.  In reaction to that, Shea offered, “I’m going to set up an information session to present our district’s cyber programs to interested parents.  “Maybe we can get them to come back with us.  That way their students will be able to participate in some of our school activities.”