Kansas BOE is OK with bus lease, but not trade-in

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 2/22/21

KANSAS — The Kansas school district will add a new leased bus to the fleet in July.

Interim superintendent John Hasten presented the plan during the board of education meeting Wednesday, …

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Kansas BOE is OK with bus lease, but not trade-in

Posted

KANSAS — The Kansas school district will add a new leased bus to the fleet in July.

Interim superintendent John Hasten presented the plan during the board of education meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17. He said getting a newer bus into service is desirable because the district’s backup bus, a 2007 model, is unreliable.

“It has been towed to Indianapolis twice,” Hasten said of the old bus. “I think it is on its last legs.”

The superintendent noted the district currently has two leased buses that are in the final year of a three-year contract. He said the leasing company is willing to add a 2020 bus for just one year to keep the leasing cycle on all buses consistent.

Hasten added the new bus available to go on the contract has a gasoline engine rather than a diesel.

“The superintendents I have talked to are switching over to gasoline engines because of problems with current diesel engines,” said Hasten. “On a three-year turn around, I’m not worried about the life-cycle of the engine.”

Adding another bus will increase the lease by a little more than $13,000 for the year.

Most of the discussion focused on the low-ball, trade-in value of only $800 the leasing company was allowing for the old bus. Board members said at that price the district is better off trying to sell the bus.

“I think we could drive it on a scale at a scrap yard and get at least a thousand for it,” said board member Ron Lee.

The board authorized Hasten to enter the lease agreement, without a trade-in, to assure a bus is available at the start of the district’s new fiscal year on July 1.

Hasten also reviewed a new option from the Teacher Retirement System. He said currently teachers are required to pay 9% of their salary into the retirement plan, but a recent change makes it possible for educators to pay more than 9%, with the additional money going into either a standard Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Roth IRA.

As part of the change, the district can match the extra money, but Hasten recommended against district involvement at this time.

“I see this as a negotiating issue in the future,” said Hasten, noting the matching payment could be a significant financial commitment for the district.

Board member Matt Ehlers concurred.

“I think it’s nice for the teachers, but I don’t think the district needs to get involved at this point,” said Ehlers.

Principal Cindy Spencer reported work on the school improvement plan is progressing and the last two in-service days were devoted to staff reviewing test scores to determine where students are performing well and subjects that need addressed.

“We don’t have a lot of low standard scores, but there are some things we need to improve,” said Spencer.

She added during a recent Regional Office of Education meeting, the individual school representatives asked the Illinois State Board of Education to waive testing this year because schools are still dealing with the implications of COVID-19.

“So many kids have been home-schooled at some point this year, whether it was families doing remote learning or students who were sick or quarantined,” said Spencer.

The Tri-County sports cooperative between Kansas, Oakland and Shiloh recently added bass fishing as a team

sport offering. Spencer said that has proved popular with students and at last count more than 30 had signed up.

Spencer said the popularity of bass fishing as a sport means looking for additional adult help since there are more students than one volunteer coach can accommodate.

Funding for improved school security is a possibility in the future.

“Pansonic reached out to me about helping us get a grant for security,” Spencer said. “The process involves having a police officer complete a risk assessment. (Deputy) Adam Rhoads has volunteered to help me with that.”

In an action item, the board set high school graduation for 2 p.m. May 15.

“I’m hoping by then we can have more people,” said Spencer. “We can always do it outside if we have to.”