During a meeting with a lengthy agenda, the Centennial School Board Tuesday night approved the purchase of four 77-person school buses that will be added to help deal with the additional impact placed on the transportation department by the .
The four new buses, which are expected to be purchased from the lowest responsible bidder in the next few months, will be used along with five previously ordered yellow school buses to transport students from , and Davis Elementary. The schools will shift from a staggered schedule and, coming in September, will all begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
School Board President Dr. Andrew Pollock - who voted to approve the new schedule at a special meeting last week - and member Kati Driban voted no Tuesday night to the purchase of the four buses citing the cost burden on the district. Driban voted against the new bell schedule last week.
School director Jane Schrader Lynch called Pollock out and questioned how he could vote to approve the new elementary school start times knowing the additional buses would be needed but could not vote to approve the purchase of the buses needed to implement the plan.
Pollack said he voted yes at last week’s special meeting to get the budget approved. The budget’s half-mill increase for taxpayers is expected to go toward supporting the bus purchase, hiring another garage mechanic and paying for the other costs associated with the additional buses.
“I am supporting [the purchase of the buses] because this is what we told the public we would do,” said board member Betty Huf citing last week’s vote to approve the new schedule. She added the board’s promise to taxpayers could not be “fulfilled’ if the new vehicles were not purchased.
In the end, the board approved the bus item 7-2.
All of the board’s members, except Mark Miller, voted to give administrators approval to begin developing the elementary school block schedule for fall.
When asked how he voted, Miller said, “Governance by ambush - no. In fact, I abstain.”
Miller, just moments, before told his peers he felt blindsided that the item was not listed on the agenda. He added that he had several concerns about the new schedule and felt the district had failed to announce solutions to his concerns.
The vote was added to the meeting’s new business section and was not printed on the advertised agenda, school officials said. The absence of the item was chalked up as an accident.
Miller has concerns that students in grades four and five will have to wait too long before they get to eat during their afternoon lunch period. In addition, he fears the lunch and recess period, which falls in the middle of the math block, will be distracting to the education process.
The board also approved 6-3 a new compensation plan for administrators that will last until 2015.
The new compensation plan's early retirement incentive will be offered to administrators. The incentive will give those who chose to retire early $10,000 per year for the next three years. Over the three years, the money will be added to a health reimbursement account, which means the funds can be used for no other purpose.
Huf said of the plan, “We just don’t have the money to give away.” She added that not many companies offer pay incentives to get employees to retire.
In other business, the nine member board unanimously approved a deal that would let next week’s Southampton Days festivities rent 13 of the district buses and drivers for transportation during the July 4th event.
The Southampton Days committee will reimburse the district $2,600 for the use of the buses and to pay the drivers.
Toward the end of the meeting, board member Michael Hartline asked Superintendent Dr. Jenny Cressman about the district’s effort to help the Warminster Soccer Club and the town’s baseball and softball leagues .
Cressman said the district was working with the local sports organizations to see if they could help.
Board members Huf and Lynch urged members of the community to donate funds to help replace the charred equipment lost in the fire.