SP board approves bus purchase

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The South Putnam School Board had a variety of items on its agenda during its regular session Wednesday evening. However, it was a new transportation purchase which provided the most discussion.

Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt made a request to approve a trade-in of a used school bus to go toward the purchase of a new 71-passenger one. The price of the new vehicle was calculated to $84,222, but this takes further expenses into account.

It was attaching a 10-year, 150,000-mile extended warranty with the purchase which generated the most scrutiny. The point here was whether the corporation’s school buses even reached that mileage during its lifetime.

The purchase of the new bus will be made through Kerlin Bus Sales in Silver Lake, with the corporation getting $7,500 to go toward the purchase.

The issue was tabled to the end of the session while Bernhardt consulted with Transportation Director Brad Ogborn over the phone. He said later that the used bus was over 10,000 miles, adding that the warranty takes into account costly problems such as a transmission going out.

The total price given for the new bus includes the cost of the extended warranty, and is a reduction from the original price tag being $91,720 given the trade-in. The purchase is based on bids offered through the state.

Tabling the approval until next month’s meeting was briefly considered, but Bernhardt said that the bid might not stand until then. As such, the board approved the purchase.

In other business, the board also ratified an agreement on a master contract between the corporation and teachers after no public comments were provided. Bernhardt said the contract will be available on Gateway and the corporation’s website.

A request by Bernhardt to set outdated equipment aside for surplus was also approved.

The board also approved a resolution authorizing the sale of the Reelsville Elementary School building and surrounding parcels. This includes property which has been donated to the Reelsville/Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department. Bernhardt will be present for the closing of the sale.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Bernhardt announced that school will be canceled on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This is due to teachers planning to travel to Indianapolis on that day to participate in Red 4 Ed Action Day.

“The technical reason for the cancellation is due to staff shortages that prevent a safe and adequate operation of out schools. However, the root cause is inadequate public education funding from state-elected leaders,” Bernhardt said from a prepared statement. “It is unfortunate that there is a need for Indiana educators to drive to Indianapolis to remind elected leaders of the legislators’ recent public education funding failures.”

Bernhardt also stated that this will be made up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an e-learning day (also known as a home-learning day). He added to this that in-school practices will be conducted leading up to the make-up.

A teacher in the audience thanked the board for its cooperation in ratifying the teacher contract, as well as recognizing their desire to attend the rally, despite the difficulties the closings may pose for parents.

Secretary Wes Hacker responded that he agreed with the complaints raised by teachers, but disagreed with “shutting down” the schools for them to attend the rally. He also asked whether another protest was possible if changes were not made, to which the teacher said that this was not foreseeable.

Board member Craig Newby added that the show of force was the point behind the rally putting teachers’ issues at the forefront of policymaking.

The board also recognized South Putnam’s Students of the Month for September. Hadleigh Hutcheson came from Central Elementary School, Rhea Dean represented Fillmore Elementary School, Peyton Freeman was honored by South Putnam Middle School and Landon Clark was chosen at South Putnam High School. Dean and Clark could not attend the meeting.

The board also approved the following personnel report:

• Resignations: Jennifer Laser, MS/HS teacher; Sarah Sterling, MS/HS teacher; and Clint Witt, bus driver;

• Termination: Carl Knapp, bus driver;

• New hires:

- Certified: Melissa Murphy, Central Elementary teacher; Samantha Jones, MS/HS teacher; and Michael Jones, MS/HS teacher;

- Classified: Deb Kleiss, MS/HS/Central Elementary food service;

- ECA: Anthony Freimainis, ninth-grade basketball; Mike Jones, eighth-grade basketball; Sawyer Arnold, seventh-grade basketball; Mark Hamilton, head MS/HS softball coach; and Jessie Laine, middle school swimming coach.

The next regular meeting of the South Putnam School Board is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in the South Putnam MS/HS Learning Center.

View 1 comment
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • I thought the board served the public which has many more parent that teachers.

    -- Posted by Hazel on Sat, Nov 16, 2019, at 1:19 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: