Bell times, busing discussed at BW School Board
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
After half of a school year with three-tier busing under the Big Walnut Local School District’s belt, District Assistant Superintendent Gary Barber raised the issue of 2013–14 school year bell times during Monday evening’s board of education meeting.
When the district moved to three-tier busing at the start of the current school year, three different bell times were established for building startup and release times. Big Walnut High School and Big Walnut Middle School currently start their days at 7:35 a.m. and students are released at 2:25 p.m. Big Walnut Intermediate School starts at 9:10 a.m. and releases students at 4 p.m. All three district elementary buildings start at 8:25 a.m. and students are released at 3:15 p.m.
Barber said the three-tier busing schedule and related bell times are the result of the geographical challenges of a 105-square-mile school district serving 3,000 students.
“To go to the old model of a single bell time district-wide would require 20 new buses costing $1.5 million, and another $1 million for operations costs,” Barber said. “After a few early year adjustments three-tier busing is running well, although drivers would like more time between rounds; but we’re moving more students with fewer buses and that leaves room for growth.”
Barber said there were negatives to three-tier busing. Parents have expressed some concerns about the intermediate school start and release times, and drivers are being pushed to make their routes on schedule.
Barber asked the board members to examine a modified three-tier system, and also consider a two-tier busing system with a 7:45 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. start and release and an 8:45 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. start and release.
“The added cost of moving to a two-tier system would be two new buses at $75,000 each or $150,000, and an additional $100,000 in operation costs,” Barber said. “But it would force the district to make double runs.”
Barber said double runs would involve some individual buses doing two pick-up routes and two drop-off routes each day for a specific building, creating student supervision concerns.
“The double runs could be eliminated with four additional buses for $300,000 and $200,000 more in operating costs,” Barber said.
Board member Pam Lillie said she would be concerned about bus drivers being rushed to meet tightened schedules.
“I like the two-tier system better,” Lillie said. “But I’m not certain if voters would like the cost.”
District Superintendent Steve Mazzi said even though state dollars have flat-lined, the district still has things to do that must be done – like busing students.
“There was a time when the state reimbursed the district for buses,” Mazzi said. “We got three buses for the price of two, but that’s gone. We know what’s best for students but we’re handcuffed because of dollars. So here we are making decisions on what’s best for kids, but the money isn’t in the budget.”
Mazzi said he would like to see how two-tier and three-tier busing would impact the district budget over five years.
Board members asked for additional information about option costs and if there was any new information about how start time impacts classroom performance in different age students that would help them make a decision when they revisit the issue during the March board meeting.
In other business, district Director of Academic Achievement Angie Pollack and Big Walnut Middle School Intervention Specialist Erin Barr presented a Race to the Top update; and how the district’s Ohio Teacher’s Evaluation System pilot program, part of the district’s RttT effort, is progressing.
Mazzi noted that the district had received a letter from United Way of Delaware County thanking Big Walnut staff for raising $6,000 for United Way.
Mazzi also said board member Pam Lillie would be recognized for serving as a board of education member for 12 years and 20 years serving the community during the March 19 Ohio School Boards Association Spring Conference.
• Board members approved the following resolutions: a Resolution Approving the Galena Administration Building Land Swap; and a Resolution of Sale of Board-Owned Property (Real Estate).
• Board members approved the Educational Services Agreement between The Learning Spectrum, LTD and Big Walnut Local School District.
• Board members approved a $3,000 pay increase for Ron McClure, Transportation Supervisor, to his current contract for additional responsibilities to supervise custodial and maintenance staff, effective February 16, 2013.
• Board accepted the resignation of Kris Fleshman, Big Walnut High School custodian, effective June 28, 2013, due to retirement.
• Board members approved the following spring athletic supplementals for the 2012–13 school
Chris Holly, Head Coach, step 7
Carl Weiss, Assistant, step 11
John Schone, Assistant, step 8
Steve Myers, MS Assistant, step 11
Joel Studlien, MS Assistant, step 7
Jeff Dutiel, Volunteer
Kelly Holly, Volunteer
Dan Lassak, Volunteer
Joe Lewis, Volunteer
Charlie Rowley, Volunteer
Matt Wilson, Volunteer
• Jeff Hatfield, Head Coach, step 6
• Frank Turner, Assistant, step 10
• Blair Nance, MS Assistant, step 6
• Lori Hayhurst, MS Assistant, step 11
• Leah Ann Baker, Volunteer
• Jerry Hatcher, Volunteer
• Tim Rioux, Volunteer
• Joe Evener, Head Coach, step 11
• Eric Myers, Head Coach, step 11
• Don Edwards, Assistant 3/4, step 11
• Dora Riggs, Assistant 1/2, step 6
• Gary Brandon, Assistant 3/4, step 11
• Joe Weaver, Assistant, step 11
• Mike Ryder, Assistant 1/2, step 11
• Anthony Zarcone, MS Assistant 1/2, step 0
• Justin Heck, MS Assistant, step 11
• Kelly Robinson, MS Assistant, step 11
• Mike McGann, MS Assistant, step 4
• Kevin Abrams, Volunteer
• Ted Stimmel, Volunteer
• Ryan Balaz, Head Coach, step 2
• Josh Pace, Assistant, step 0
• Kim White, MS Assistant, step 11
• Board members approved the following extended field trip: Students grades 9–12, Expedition Inside Culture (EiC) Field Trip to Higgins Lake State Park, Higgins Lake, Michigan, May 9 – 12, 2013.
• Board members approved the following donations: $1,000 donated to Big Walnut High School Challenge Day, Anonymous Donor; $1,000 donated to Big Walnut High School Challenge Day, Anonymous Donor.
The next regularly scheduled Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 11, in the Big Walnut High School Media Center.