BLAIRSBURG - Bus schedules dominated the Northeast Hamilton School Board's meeting on Thursday.
Four parents addressed their concerns about the extended bus ride their children take Monday through Friday.
Students are required to board busses earlier in order to deliver high school students to the school by 7:50 a.m. so they can be bussed to Webster City for partial day sharing.
The earliest loading time for students is 6:45 a.m.
In addition, last year the NEH School Board voted to eliminate one of the four bus routes. The vehicle reduction has put NEH students on the road for longer times than last year.
"Two hours a day is too much for a 13 year old to be on a bus," said one parent about the total time spent riding morning and afternoon.
"I know this is not an ideal situation," said Superintendent Patrick Hocking. "The only way to accommodate the students is by adding a route."
Hocking noted that the geography of the district dictates the bus routes.
In order to keep students from riding more than the state's allowable one hour limit, busses travel to the far end of the route and pick students up as it nears the school. In the afternoon, that route is run with the students closest to the school being dropped off first.
One parent asked that the route be reversed with the bus traveling to the far end of the route and dropping off those students first.
"We're not asking special favors," stated one parent. "Even if it is allowable, I just think it is wrong."
"All along, we knew transportation would be our challenge," said board member Roxanne Anderson in referring to the partial day sharing.
After the board discussed options, board member Kathy Pruismann asked NEH bus manager Gene Greenfield to determine the cost of an additional route and report his findings at the December meeting.
In other business, the board agreed to keep the school parking lot lit through the night and will examine the cost at December's meeting.
Currently, the school keeps the outside lights on from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Board members voiced concern after a vehicle was stolen from school property.
"We need to keep this place lighted up at night," said Hocking. "It is a safety issue. We need to keep the lights on for when kids come back from events."
"Keeping the lights on would not have made a difference with the stealing of that car," said Pruismann.
"I don't want to see a 14-year-old walking around in a dark parking lot," said Anderson.
In other news, Hocking reported that NEH's certified enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year totalled 229.96 students compared to last year's total of 226.4 students. Hocking reported that the decimal point reflects a state formula which takes into account students who are homeschooled.
The board approved the Modified Allowable Growth in order to keep the district's unspent authority as high as possible. It was noted that raising the allowable growth does not raise taxes, but only increases the authority. The approval permits allowable growth applications for Budget Guarantee, Open Enrollment, Special Education Deficit, Transportation and On-Time Funding.
The board approved contracts for Jory Rapp for Special Education Associate and for Paige Moberly for part time At-Risk instructor. Approved was the 200 series of Board policy with a change in the compensation language. Following the submission of a detailed receipt,
school personnel will be reimbursed within ten days.
In administrative reports, Hocking reported that the Veterans Day program will be held on Monday at 1 p.m. in the school gym. Prior to the program, the public is invited to a free lunch served in the school cafeteria from noon to 1 p.m.
Hocking reported that the Iowa Hall of Pride game will be held on Nov. 17 in the new Webster City High School gym. The girls game will begin at 6 p.m. and the boys game will follow at 7:30 p.m. Hocking noted this will be first competition to be held in the new gym. All proceeds will go to the Hamilton County Upper Des Moines Opportunity.
The Staff Appreciation Coffee will be held on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. in the school cafeteria. The December school board meeting will follow at 4:15 p.m.
Hocking noted that American Education Week will be celebrated Nov. 11 through 17 and the Iowa Assessment Tests for grades 9-11 will begin Monday. High School Principal Dennis Bahr reported he will conduct three of the teacher evaluations for Hocking.
Bahr also reported that staff development is currently working on determining what students need to learn and at what level.
Hocking presented the possibility of the district refinancing bonds in order to take advantage of low interest rates. He will report to the board next month.
Board President Kim Schaa reported on the joint school board meeting with Webster City and Stratford which she attended with board member Roxanne Anderson. This was the first joint meeting for the schools and it was held on Oct. 22. Professional growth and development, grading, school lunch programs and transportation issues were the topic of discussion, said Schaa.
In Good News Sharing, Hocking reported that Janelle Oakland has been nominated for Excellence in Education sponsored by the ISEA and Farm Bureau; six NEH students presented at the ITEC conference; three NEH Quiz Bowl teams competed at the Bishop Garrigan competition and Kyler Rapp was selected for All State Music Auditions.
Hocking also reported that the school has received compliments from the Webster City High School staff on the polite behavior of NEH students. Also, the Spirit Club was thanked for iPad purchases.
The board voiced appreciation for a donation from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Williams. The $300 donation will be used for Special Needs.