South Range to seek bids for new school bus

BEAVER TOWNSHIP- The South Range school board Monday authorized the advertisement of bids for a new school bus.

The board authorized Treasurer Jim Phillips to advertise for bids for a 71-seat conventional school bus. Currently the district’s fleet has 24 buses, including spares, with the newest a 2011 and oldest a 1995 with over 100,000 miles, according to schools Superintendent Dennis Dunham. Two buses are also going to need their engines rebuilt at approximately $10,000 each.

Dunham said a new bus costs between $80,000 and $85,000, but that not purchasing buses can cause more costs in maintenance and repairs, as well as pose dangers to students and other passengers.

In other business the board approved the 2014-2015 academic calendar, with first day for students Sept. 3, last day for students June 9 and graduation June 6; and granted permission for the high school band to travel to Orlando, Fla., March 18-23 to perform at Disney World and attend several educational museums and performances.

Dunham also noted that a parent feedback survey will be available on the school website.

Also at the meeting Dunham explained the calamity days situation for next year and the practice he follows for delaying or canceling school.

Dunham reported that beginning next year the state will use an hourly format instead of days, with grades seven through 12 required to attend 1,001 and grades kindergarten through six 910. He said currently the district is scheduled for 141 more hours than required, an equivalent of roughly 21 days. Each delay and canceled day count toward the hour total. Currently the state allows five calamity days.

Dunham also explained his policy for delaying or canceling school, noting that a rule of thumb is a windchill of 15 or 16 degrees below zero, although there are several variables that affect the decision. He said his decisions are based on weather forecasts and are concerned with protecting the students, informing parents, ensuring buses start in cold weather and providing best conditions for bus drivers (daylight helps drivers see upcoming problems in the roadway).

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 17 at the K-12 campus.