Board votes to approve purchase of special needs bus

Published 5:49 pm Friday, August 20, 2010

A packed agenda brought a lengthy meeting for the Butler County Board of Education Thursday night.

One of the most discussed items of the night was a request for permission to purchase an additional special needs school bus.

Allin Whittle, administrator for operations, said due to the increase of special needs students in the district, the need was there for another bus,

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“We’ve been borrowing a bus from another school system until we can purchase one,” Whittle said. According to Whittle, there were five new special needs students in the district, with several more students already in the district now asking to be transported by bus.

Currently, there are two buses serving 30 students in Greenville and one bus serving four students in the Georgiana and McKenzie areas.

A new bus with the special equipment to handle disabled students would cost approximately $87,000, Whittle said.

“Do we have the funds for this?” asked board member Joe Lisenby.

“There will be stimulus funds for special education in place after October 1. If this is approved, we will be prepared to come back in September with price quotes. Some vendors already have this type of bus in stock, so we wouldn’t have to order it,” Whittle said.

The borrowed bus, a 2001 model, is for sale for $2,500, but Whittle said he would not recommend buying it, since it lacks air conditioning. “A/C is something you really need with these special needs kids with feeding tubes and other issues,” he said, adding, “All our other special needs buses do have air conditioning.”

Board member Linda Hamilton asked how much it would cost to retrofit the bus with air conditioning.

“Probably $8,000-however, it would not be eligible for fleet renewal. And you’re getting an old bus,” said Whittle.

Lisenby queried whether the new bus would be a 2010 or 2011 model if purchased this fall.

“It would be a 2011 model,” Whittle said. The board members voted to approve the request for the new bus purchase.

In other new business, the board:

*Approved the use of the Nexcheck Collection Service. CFO Brandy Burleson pointed out the service would be at no cost to the school system and would guarantee up to $2,500 with NSF and Closed accounts coverage. Funds would also be electronically credited to the school system, with a website enabling schools to track history and progress. Notification forms would be provided to advise parents of check collection procedures.

* Approved proposed policy revisions in the Uniform Dress Code and the Attendance, Truancy, Tardy Policy/Pre-Trial Diversion Program. The change in the former will involve a change in color for one of the shirts, superintendent Darren Douthitt said.

As for the current disciplinary policies, Douthitt said the district was going back to the state policy and “adding meat back into it.” He said the existing policies were too complex and confusing for the schools to manage.

“We want our code of conduct to be something our local school can manage and principals, staff, students and parents can all understand.”

*Approved permission to close the Alternative Center pending approval of transfers. “The idea is to move all alternative school staff to local schools with the alternative students managed through that school,” Douthitt said. “This is a cost-cutting measure. With the retirement of Mr. Abrams, we will save by not hiring a replacement administrator and we’ll put their education into the hands of well equipped, well qualified people to help affect this program in a positive way.” There are three teachers and one counselor in the Alternative School.