Heeding feedback from parents, the Lackawanna Trail School District has reached a compromise with its single bus stop policy.
Ahead of the 2019-20 school year, the district altered its bus policy while revising the elementary and high school handbooks, limiting students to one bus stop.
The hope in changing the policy was to eliminate safety concerns and ease the burden on bus drivers and district employees responsible for dealing with the confusion of multiple students headed to places other than their assigned stops.
Since the start of the school year, parents in the district have voiced their concerns at Lackawanna Trail School Board meetings, sharing circumstances in which their children need to use a different bus stop.
At Monday’s work session for the school board, Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas said effective immediately, parents or guardians could fill out a form explaining why their children need special busing accommodations.
The form is available on the superintendent’s page on ltsd.org.
However, Rakauskas said filling out the form does not automatically approve the accommodations. The person filling out the form must meet with Maintenance and Transportation Supervisor Rick Kordish and the principal of their child’s school.
“I think it’s a good middle ground,” Rakauskas said. “If we went back to the way it was, there are simply too many problems, but maybe we came off a little too strong in the beginning and didn’t communicate it well enough. I feel we’re in a very good place with that issue currently.”
In a resolution at next week’s meeting related to Act I of 2001, the board will vote to not raise the rate of tax support for the 2020-21 fiscal year by more than the 3.3 percent index established by the Department of Education.
Keith Glynn, the district’s business manager, estimates a millage increase of 0.77 percent in Wyoming County (94.68 mils) and 5 percent in Lackawanna County (175.86 mils) under the full index.
“The hope is not even to go to that index if we don’t have to,” Glynn said.
“This is just the max under the index. We will not go over it and we’re not seeking any exemptions,” added board president David Thorne.
The percentages for the two counties could come closer together once Lackawanna County provides updates on its assessed values, Glynn said.
The district has targeted paving both school parking lots and lanes as a priority, Glynn said. This would come out of the fund balance as part of the next operating budget.
A pre-bid service through the company Gordian found the district to be in the $600-700,000 range to cover the paving projects at both schools.
The board is still working out the language in a contract between the district and the Lackawanna Trail Education Support Professionals Association. The contract is expected to be on the agenda for a vote next week, Thorne said.
The board will also vote on the following at its regular meeting:
*Approve the appointment of Jim Kotz as the mentor for elementary physical education teacher Jennifer Boccadori at a stipend of $450 for the 2019-20 school year.
*Retroactively approve Robert Houser’s intermittent family medical leave request for up to 12 weeks of leave, effective Dec. 9, 2019, to Dec. 8, 2020.
*Approve Kristin Pietrzak as a part-time, non-leveled paraprofessional at 4 ¾ hours per day at a rate of $13 per hour. Pietrzak will begin once she is released from her current employer.
*Approve Tina Gavin as a part-time Level I paraprofessional at 4 ¾ hours per day at a rate of $13 per hour plus $2.50 per each hour with a leveled student. Gavin will begin on Jan. 14.
*Approve Amber Mosier as a temporary Level II paraprofessional at 4 ¾ hours per day at a rate of $13 per hour, plus $4.50 per each hour with a leveled student. Mosier will begin on Jan. 14 for a 30-school day employment period.
*Approve Lawrence Rudock as a substitute bus driver for Nichols Bus Company for the 2019-20 school year.
After last month’s meeting, the board met in executive session to discuss teachers’ union negotiations. Prior to Monday’s work session, the board met in executive session to receive updates on legal matters from its solicitor, personnel matters and negotiation updates.
The Lackawanna Trail School Board is scheduled to meet on Monday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m.