USD 382 Board of Education members were updated on new bus status at their August meeting.
A new activity bus is ready to transport Pratt USD 382 students to sports, educational and recreational events, Supterintendent Tony Helfrich reported to Board of Education members at Monday night’s regular meeting.
“That’s one piece of good news,” Helfrich said. “Another is that the mill levy for USD 382 taxpayers dropped by .421 mills.”
Helfrich computed the property tax savings to USD 382 home and business owners to be $4.84 per $100,000 of property valuation.
Prior to the regular agenda, Board President Bill Bergner presided over the scheduled budget hearing to adopt the 2019-2020 School Year budget in the amount of $17,702,785, which was unanimously approved without discussion.
Athletic Director David Swank, reporting for District Transportation Director Clint Jones, told board members that the new activity bus, a 2020 Freightliner Ultra, would be emblazoned with the Greenback logo on Wednesday.
“The district selected local vendor Taylor Printing to apply the vinyl wrap to show our Pratt Greenback pride as we travel the state,” Helfrich said.
The new activity bus is equipped with seatbelts – both lap and shoulder – and fastening belts will be required for Southwest Elementary and Liberty Middle School students, Helfrich said.
“Seatbelts on the bus is a cultural change for our students,” he said. “For high school students, parents may request that we require seatbelt use for their child and we will enforce wearing a seatbelt.”
Swank said another change in rules for the activity bus is based on a regulation of the Kansas State High School Activities Association which specifies that, for insurance purposes, all activity trips must take the most direct route to and from the designated destination.
“That means, for example, when we travel to Nickerson for events, the bus driver will not be allowed to detour into Hutchinson for a meal, coming or going,” Helfrich said. “So, students will have to bring a sack lunch.”
Only bottled water will be allowed for drinks and snacks are also curtailed.
“Rules are water only, no pop,” Helfrich said. “Also, no seeds, popcorn or gum.”
The new activity bus replaces a 1988 MCI that was just short of two million miles with an odometer reading of 1,885,000 miles.
The new bus was purchased from National Bus Sales at a cost of $220,000. Helfrich said research by the district revealed a cost savings of $100,000 with an added 100,000 miles of warranty coverage over replacing the old bus with even a used MCI vehicle.
“It was a pre-planned budgeted item,” Helfrich said. “The district takes the safety of our students very seriously.”
A second vehicle purchase of a 2015 Chevrolet for the district transportation department at a cost of $26,000 from Doug Reh Chevrolet was also approved.
Board members also approved an increase for substitute teacher pay, from $100 to $103 per day.
Additionally, board members heard reports regarding summer activities of PHS Student Council members and from several department heads, including Southwest Elementary Assistant Principal Kirsten Blankenship, who is filling in for Assistant Superintendent David Schmitt, currently on deployment to Kuwait.
Helfrich said school personnel were looking forward to opening doors Wednesday to an anticipated 1,250 students, including pre-school, for the first official day of the new school year.