Unified School District 410 Board of Education voted at its regular meeting Monday to establish a policy to not fund “in-town bus routes” to transport children to school.
The action came following a request made by a group of parents to reinstate the town route for elementary students for the next school year.
In April 2010, the board cut the town route because of declining enrollment and reduced state funding, Superintendent Steve Noble said, adding the parents group had gone through appropriate channels to bring the issue to the board.
“Our biggest concern is safety,” parent Sara Wichert said about the congestion that occurs when school is dismissed and children either walk or ride bikes home or are picked up by parents.
Another parent who attended Monday’s meeting told the board she has to take off up to an hour from work when the weather is “too hot, cold or raining” to pick up her children.
Parents and principal Evan Yoder discussed with the board options that may improve the situation. Although all acknowledged none would be ideal, they agreed safety problems at HES have improved since years past.
Another component of the discussion included Noble giving an update on the Safe Routes to School project, which would use grant funding to install crosswalks and widen sidewalks in phases to enhance routes for children to use.
Currently, the project involves identifying community support that is required in order to receive funding.
“It costs a lot of money to put sidewalks in,” board member Mark Rooker said.
Finally, Noble asked the board to make a definitive decision as to whether USD 410 is a “town route district.” The board voted against reinstatement.
In another matter, the board also approved eliminating the Head Start/preschool bus route beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
The decision follows the practice of other districts in McPherson and Marion counties.
The money saved will be used to expand the family advocate services to serve all families with children attending Head Start, Noble said.
Yoder said it will help with consistency as well as increase parent contact with teachers.
Noble said Head Start and preschool children residing outside the city limits of Hillsboro, however, will receive busing services on the regular bus routes as do all students outside of town.
Noble announced the end-of-year celebration for USD 410 board, staff and families scheduled for 3:30 p.m. May 22 at the pool and at 5 p.m. at the district office.
In other business, the board:
• reinstated the HES art program. The decision means a full-time position for music and art. Also with changes in personnel, the district will hire a full-time kindergarten teacher.
“Thank you so much,” Yoder told the board after the vote.
• heard an update from Noble regarding plans for training and implementing curriculum for the common core standards, including training for a team of district teachers.
Noble also reported information on Project Lead the Way, an innovative curriculum to be used for district paths in science and technology to be implemented in fall 2013 as well as plans to purchase a used greenhouse.
• approved disposal of band instruments no longer in use.
• approved adding cross country for Hillsboro Middle School beginning in 2012-13.
The decision was made with the provision that no additional cost for personnel or transportation is required because students will practice with the high school team and meets for both groups will run concurrently.
“We think it’s kind of a win-win for everybody,” Noble said.
• approved the following personnel changes after meeting in executive session: retirement of custodian Ken Pankratz, effective June 30; changing the contract for Tracy Boldt from half-time to full-time kindergarten teacher; renewing contract for Brandi Hendrix as TEEN director to 2014; and supplemental contracts for 2012-13.
• met in executive session for negotiations. No action was taken.