The agenda is fairly routine, with a couple items of note.
Item F1 authorizes our liability insurer to pay a settlement claim related to a personnel matter. No impact on our operating budget - this is why we buy liability insurance (correction: we did have to pay the $2,500/claim deductible).
As is our pleasure each year, we welcome several foreign exchange students to our schools, to our community, and for the host families - into their homes. It's a substantial commitment for all, and it should be a point of pride that these students want to come here. This year students join us from Germany, Korea and Japan.
Per Board Policy KH, we will be voting to accept a substantial list of donated materials, totaling $136,000 in value, much of it provided by PTOs and Booster organizations. Thank you to all donors.
House Bill 153, passed by the 129th General Assembly in 2011, and incorporated into section 3327.02 of the Ohio Revised Code, allows a school board to declare by resolution that it is impractical to provide transportation to a student, and to instead make payment to the student's family.
The law doesn't specify how large this payment should be, only that it is an "amount that shall be not less than the amount determined by the [Ohio] department of education as the minimum for payment in lieu of transportation, and not more than the amount determined by the department as the average cost of pupil transportation for the previous school year."
Toward that end, item F4 on the agenda reads:
Superintendent recommends ... that the Board of Education authorize the Director of Business to decline as impractical any request or route of 20 or less students and approve parent applications for the payment of $250 in lieu of transportation as per criteria set by the State Department of Education.
I read this to say that the Administration wants to be given blanket authority for an indefinite period to define a bus route that would pick up 20 or fewer students, then declare it impractical to serve that route, instead paying $250 (per year) per student, meaning up to $5,000.
I see a few problems with this. The indefinite nature is one. I'd prefer that the Board be given the opportunity to review and approve the list of students who the Administration recommends be given payments in lieu of transportation - just as the Board approves bus routes each year (actually, it is required to do so by law: ORC 3327.01). I am interested in this information, and I also think future School Boards might also be interested. This resolution as worded would seem to make the decision process invisible to future School Boards.
And since we have Board Policy EEA dealing with student transportation, it would seem like the appropriate route for this legislation would be to have the Policy Review Committee look at it first, and incorporate whatever language is decided upon into Policy EEA.
Transportation matters are important. I understand that it's a big deal to tell parents that their kids won't be provided transportation, meaning the parents have to figure out another way to get their kids to and from school each and every day. I'm not sure what the fair compensation should be for being denied that service. We can calculate the cost per student for transportation in our current mode (the ODE says it's $684.21/yr), but I don't think $250/yr is a fair reflection of what it would cost parents to transport their own kids for 180 days.
I am not inclined to vote in favor of this resolution, but will listen to the discussion at the Board meeting before making my final decision.
Finally, although not on the agenda, the Board will be announcing three working sessions to take place over the next two weeks. I believe that the sessions on Sept 10 and Sept 16 will be held in executive session so that we may begin preparing for contract negotiations with the Hilliard Education Association (teachers' union) and OAPSE Local #310 (support staff union). On Sept 18 there will be a public session to discuss the performance plans for the Superintendent and Treasurer. Watch for the formal announcements.