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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Bus route costs rising, gas prices level in Newburg School District

  • When Newburg Schools Transportation Director Steve Guffey compared transportation costs between 2008 and last school year, he noticed while regular route costs have increased, funds spent on gas have remained about the same.
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  • When Newburg Schools Transportation Director Steve Guffey compared transportation costs between 2008 and last school year, he noticed while regular route costs have increased, funds spent on gas have remained about the same.
    Guffey, who also is the Newburg High School principal, gave a report on the school district’s transportation program to the Newburg R-II School Board Thursday evening.
    He told board members that in 2008, about $69,000 was spent on regular routes. Last school year, his report states $96,964 was spent on regular routes.
    Guffey said that is a “pretty substantial jump, but the weird thing was back in 2008, we stayed pretty much the same as to what we spent on gas” — around $25,000. His report states that $25,176 was spent on gas in the 2011-12 school year.
    A total of $25,500 has been budgeted for gas for the 2012-13 school year. Guffey said the buses are more fuel-efficient. In addition to gas and regular route costs, costs for Preschool Early Education Partnership (PEEP) routes and retirement were up slightly and costs for benefits and summer school stayed about the same compared to previous years. The total cost for the transportation program last year was $142,540.
    The projected cost for the district’s transportation program for the 2012-13 school year is $161,000, according to Guffey’s report.
    Guffey said while gas prices haven’t changed much, the increase comes from salaries, which in turn increases the costs of benefits.
    “We also added a regular route and PEEP routes. Our route miles have increased as well,” Guffey said, noting that bus drivers drive into the town of Edgar Springs and travel north and south on Highway 63.
    “We will see different numbers this year because gas prices are higher than ever,” he said.
    Guffey also reported strengths of the program, including “excellent and efficient maintenance of buses, qualified and dedicated route drivers and support personnel and no significant accidents last year.” Also a new handicap bus was placed in service for the 2011-12 school year.
    This year, the district will now have eight regular routes, up from seven last year. Guffey’s report states that the school district is one of the largest in Missouri based on square mileage.
    Guffey also listed three recommendations for the program — find more qualified bus drivers, continue to raise their salaries and purchase shirts for drivers to identify them to parents, patrons and students on routes and field trips.
    “I always thought that (shirts) looked nice. I’m going try to figure out a way to get that accomplished,” Guffey said.
    Also during Thursday’s meeting, the school board discussed implementing its anti-bullying program.
    “We are needing to provide anti-bullying training to our students and in order to do that, we need to have some training for our teachers also,” said Superintendent John Westerman.
    Page 2 of 2 - The district plans to use a professional development day Monday for training and to talk about bullying and cyberbullying. Westerman said a discussion of sexual abuse of children also will take place.
    It was noted that October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
    Board member Clay Austin asked if the character education/traits program and health classes could be incorporated into the discussions about bullying.
    Board President James Macormic also presented a list of proposed code of ethics for school board members for the board to review.
    “I think as board members, we need to take our code of ethics to heart,” Macormic said, noting that while current board policies state the board’s purpose and role of board members, he feels the board should amend its policy and adopt the proposed or a revised version of the proposal at the board’s October meeting so the policies have “a true code of ethics and not just an outline.”
    The proposed code of ethics for the Newburg board lists 16 things board members should remember, including making every effort to attend all board meetings, becoming informed concerning all issues at meetings, remembering that the first and greatest concern is the educational welfare of students, refraining from divulging confidential information presented during closed meetings, avoiding conflicts of interest and refraining from using the board to benefit their families, business associates or themselves.
    “I’m not saying anybody in here is violating any of these. I ran across this and thought this would be a good idea.”
    Other business In other business, after two closed sessions, the school board approved hiring a new janitor, David Scholl, and a new bus driver, Leroy Brumett. The board also appointed Doug Ward as the homeless coordinator and approved the district’s substitute teacher list. Board members also approved, at the superintendent’s request, amending the hourly pay schedule for the central office and maintenance staff because of recent resignations, dismissals and duty reorganization. The board also approved a request by Westerman to seek bids to sell the former preschool modular building with a minimum price of $10,000. “It would probably be best to get rid of it and let somebody make some use of it,” Westerman said. The board also approved a change order via the architect to the cafeteria construction project contract in the amount of $25,046. Also approved were add-ons and adjustments in the amount of $2,914 that were not run through the architect, including a new industrial garbage disposal and a door in place of a window in the booster area among other items. The board also approved an estimated $25,000 to redirect water coming from a pipe under Wolf Pride Drive away from the school building and into a storm drain. This work also involves replacing a delivery ramp and rails and putting up a privacy fence.
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