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School Board looking for bus drivers

The McCreary County Board of Education approved a new incentive program to hopefully help the Districts’ bus driver shortage.

Acting Superintendent Aaron Anderson presented a proposal for a new incentive package to recruit substitute bus drivers that will, hopefully, fill the need for drivers in the district.

Borrowing the idea from the Jackson County School District, Anderson requested the Board implement the program, which would be available to the first 10 applicants for the position.

“To meet a growing need of substitute bus drivers, the district is removing some of the initial costs associated with enrolling in the training program,” Anderson said.

Under the new program the first 10 applicants to be a sub bus driver, the District will pay for the background check, initial physical and the cost of the CDL license test, a sometimes prohibitive expense for new drivers totaling upwards of $200 in some cases.

In exchange for the initial aid toward getting certified to drive a bus, the hires would agree to be available as a sub driver for a full year, and if they do, they will be rewarded with a $100 training bonus at the end of the year.

Anderson said the total cost to the District would be only $2,750, if all 10 continue with the program. That money is already allocated in the transportation budget, and would not affect the General Fund.

An added bonus, Anderson explained, would be that the drivers that went through the program and passed the CDL test would have their Class B license, which could be used in other capacities outside of bus driving.

With the District facing a lack of bus drivers, the substitutes would have plenty of opportunities to work, Anderson stated, and could lead to full-time employment if a position opens.

It was noted that with the current health care laws, many potential bus drivers are opting not to pursue a job due to the costs.

The Board heard an update on construction projects throughout the District from Melinda Joseph-Dezarn of Ross Tarrant Architects.

The roof project at Pine Knot Intermediate is underway and on schedule she stated, but noted a delay in obtaining a skylight for the cafeteria is possible, but won’t impact the opening date of the school.

Work is preparing to start at McCreary Middle to correct some foundation issues, but another concern for the school is looming.

Dezarn noted roofing issues due to the settling of the foundation has created a problem where a new roof may be needed within the next few years. The District could patch where the main damage has occurred, but it would only be a temporary fix as the roof is near the end of its life expectancy.

Plans to construct a locker room at the softball field and hitting facilities at both baseball and softball are awaiting approval from the state, but the proposed location for the baseball facility has hit a snag due to underground plumbing. The District may need to look at moving the water lines before they are able to move forward.

The Board also approved soliciting bids for lawn mowing services at all five schools.

Anderson stated maintenance workers were currently being asked to mow the grounds in addition to their other duties, taking them away from other needed projects.

With planned construction at every school building this summer, using a maintenance worker to mow the lawn removes their availability to work on needed issues related to the projects.

Anderson said the Board had two options: creating a temporary summer mowing/maintenance position for the duties, which would cost approximately $7,500 for the summer, or bid the service to an outside provider, which could cost less. Anderson said many school districts across the state choose to bid it out.

“We are taking them off other projects, this would free up our skilled workers to do the things they are needed to do,” Anderson stated.

The salary schedule for school nurses was approved after a few adjustments Tuesday night. Changes with the agreement with the Lake Cumberland Health District prompted the Board to hire the nurses directly, since the LCHD would not be able to provide the employees any more due to budget restrictions.

The initial proposal called for the nurses to work a 180-day year, similar to teachers, but only allocated a 7-hour work day.

With an hourly salary based on years of experience, the nurses’ annual salaries would range from about $28,000 to $32,000 per year.

A discussion about the work load the nurses would face, such as needing to be available from when the first student enters the building until the last one left for the day, the Board opted to increase the daily hours to 8, which would increase the annual salary by about $4,000.

Based on estimates that each nurse should be able to bill about $45,000 toward Medicare, which would return to the District, the Board noted that they could revisit the schedule again next year to make adjustment to the salaries if revenues exceed expectations.

The Board also approved a textbook adoption plan for Pine Knot Primary School for $17,834, to be paid out of state allocations.

The Board entered executive session for about 50 minutes at the conclusion of the meeting to discuss proposed or pending litigation against the District, but took no action when open session resumed.

Anderson could not comment on the nature of the potential litigation facing the District.

The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education will be on July 28 at 6:30 p.m.

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