Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 2, 2014

School bus purchases could see rebate

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Nov 21, 2012

The Fairfield school board Monday approved seeking bids to purchase two school buses and authorized the district to develop a proposal to contract for a specified amount of diesel fuel a year at a time instead of purchasing 3,500-3,900 gallons as needed.

Auxiliary Services Director Fred McElwee said the district has a three-year school bus replacement plan through the 2015-16 school year, replacing two buses per year. This schedule allows for full fleet rotation in a 15-year period.

“This is for planning purposes only and is subject to change due to vehicle use and condition,” he said.

McElwee and district mechanics decide which buses to trade based on age, efficiency, mileage and operating costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new rebate program for school districts purchasing buses with 2012 or newer conventional diesel engines or using alternative fuels such as battery-electric, hybrid diesel-electric or compressed natural gas.

“When we seek bids to purchase buses, I will write the specifications to say the district would be purchasing buses after a January date, because that’s one of the guidelines for the rebate.” said McElwee. “If the district receives the rebate, I would buy four buses this year [up to five buses from one district is allowed for rebates] and skip buying two buses next year.”

McElwee told the board the district has been getting quotes from three to four diesel vendors on the day fuel is needed, generally purchasing 3,500 to 3,900 gallons at a time.

“With economic instability, and as ‘daily incidents’ can have an impact on spot pricing, locking in a known price for a larger quantity of fuel would most likely reduce risks and provide a known budget for the district,” he said.

On average, the district uses about 49,000 gallons of diesel fuel each school year, making 12 to 14 purchases throughout the year. All of the district’s buses use diesel.

Sathoff, district business manager Kim Sheets and McElwee will develop a request for proposal and distribute it to current vendors.

“We’ll enter into an agreement with a vendor who meets the conditions of our proposal. For this first year, the district will contract only for up to 60 percent of the projected amount of fuel to be used for the rest of the school year,” said McElwee.

The school board also approved increasing the electrical reimbursement amount from $100 to $150 annually to bus drivers that drive school buses home and plug in the engines overnight in cold weather.

The school district has received gifts in the past month. Jefferson County Health Center received a grant and purchased Polycom, a content searchable database for educators and a video bridge technology, similar to Skype.

Fairfield and Cardinal schools have accepted using this software provided by Jefferson County Health Center that can be added to any computer in the district. Jefferson County Health Center has paid for software licensing and user names. Classrooms, teachers, individual students can have video face-to-face contact to other Polycom users around the globe, and even outer space. Sathoff said another district with this technology linked with the space station and schools in Japan for discussions.

The family of Becky Kann, an 18-year teacher in Fairfield schools, most recently at Pence Elementary School, donated $1,975 to Pence in Kann’s memory.

A black granite bench, purchased for $1,875, was installed Tuesday at Pence and $100 is intended to buy library books for the school library.

The district was able to purchase two automated external defibrillators for two elementary buildings that didn’t have them, saving $298 by working with the health center.

Fairfield Middle School took the opportunity of Bullying Awareness Month in October to educate staff and students more about bullying, said principal Laura Atwood.

“Our archery club is up and running,” she said. “We’re starting small, we have about 20 seventh-and eighth-graders participating in the after-school club.

“Matt Stutzman came to speak with all of our students about achieving goals. He was very inspirational,” said Atwood. “And he shared his silver medal, letting all the students touch it.”

A new program for eighth-grade students teaches critical skills needed to get along in the world. In December, the students will have a luncheon at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center to enable them to practice etiquette and table manners.

In other business:

• McElwee noted the district’s bread provider, Hostess, has shut down and bread products will instead be purchased from Sara Lee, which has slightly higher prices.

And the board approved the following recommendations:

• Hiring Johnna Rinken for the open first-grade teaching position at Libertyville Elementary School. Rinken has filled the spot as a long-term substitute since September.

• Hiring Jolene Bullis as Fairfield High School Quill advisor with a salary of $3,105 for this school year. The contract for Bullis also was amended to reflect her appropriate educational background and years of experience, to BA+30, Step 7.

Bullis is the new FHS media specialist. Fairfield finalized a contract with her former employer, CAL Community School District, to provide teacher-librarian service to that district one day a month.

• Hiring Merle Ferrel as a substitute school bus driver at $37.27 per route.

• Brandi Strickler as a mentor for a first-year teacher with a rate of pay, $1,000 for the school year.

• Volunteer coaches for the 2012-13 seasons — Art Sathoff, high school basketball; Aaron Countryman and Brandon Dimmitt, baseball.

• Accepted the resignation of Aaron Countryman as assistant high school baseball coach.

• A request to the Iowa Department of Education for an early start of school date waiver, before Sept. 1, 2013.

• A request from FHS senior Ashley Williams to graduate early this year.

• Changes to school board policies recommended by the board’s policy committee.

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