RCAPS bus lease delayed

Of RCAPS' 21-bus fleet, the six buses in worst shape would be replaced with the leased buses expected to be delivered in December.
Of RCAPS’ 21-bus fleet, the six buses in worst shape would be replaced with the leased buses expected to be delivered in December.

New buses to arrive in December

REED CITY – A contract to lease buses for Reed City Public Schools has been delayed until next month. In August, the board of education authorized Superintendent Steve Westhoff to move forward in obtaining bids to lease six buses for the district. After deciding to go with Holland Bus Company, Westhoff announced at Monday’s meeting that the drafted contract needs to be adjusted to comply with the federal tax code. He also recommended a finance plan that would allow the district to eventually purchase the buses. “The best option for us in financing these buses is to lease and purchase them over the course of six years,” Westhoff said. While the contract is pending, the six buses are on order and expected to be delivered in December. An LP fueling station will be installed at the bus garage to accommodate the propane-fueled buses. Of RCAPS’ 21-bus fleet, the six buses in worst shape would be replaced with the leased buses. Any useable equipment will be removed from the oldest buses before they are retired. With the district’s bus fleet aged and worn, leasing is a more inexpensive way to increase the safety and efficiency of the district’s bus system without having the upfront cost of purchasing new buses. Also at the meeting, the board passed a resolution to meet seven of the state’s eight best practice incentive guidelines. For meeting seven of the requirements, the district will receive an additional $52 per student, or $81,328 total, for the 2012-13 school year. The one guideline RCAPS will not meet is the physical education requirement, which specifies the amount of time spent in class and class size of physical education courses at different grade levels. While the district can meet the elementary requirements, Westhoff said they would have to hire six more teachers to offer enough physical education classes at the secondary level and even then there would not be enough facilities available. “I don’t know how any school district in the state is going to be able to afford that,” he added. The board also approved a change to its policy on public participation at meetings. The policy was called into question at the August board meeting. Vice president Ed Raby thought a slight modification to the policy would clarify how members of the public can be added to the board’s agenda. “The intent was to get rid of the negative language,” Raby said. In other business, the board:
  • Approved an overnight trip to Chicago for the students in National Honor Society and those who have completed advanced science and art classes; and
  • Acknowledged the promotion of three elementary school teachers to tenure status.
During the board’s work session prior to the regular meeting, the Michigan Education Association filed a grievance against the district on behalf of one elementary teacher and five secondary teachers. The teachers were questioning the terms of their layoff, which now – under state law – is performance-based with data taken from annual teacher evaluations. This is the first year layoffs have not been determined by seniority. The board rejected a similar grievance at its July meeting. The next regular board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the board room in the Administrative Annex building.