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In Town Busing Issue Discussed By Emmetsburg School Board

By Staff | Sep 24, 2009

A dilemma on how to pick up students at a licensed daycare was discussed and considered by the Emmetsburg Community School Board during its annual reorganizational meeting Monday night, Sept. 21. The board also re-elected Karla Anderson to another term as president, and welcomed two new board members to the group during the reorganizational session.

The board first convened to discuss old business, and learned that no proposal on the sale of the old Middle School would be coming from Emmetsburg native Margay Gross. “Apparently, she has lost interest in obtaining the building,” noted Emmetsburg Superintendent John Joynt. “She wants to continue her idea of hosting a film festival, but I don’t expect her to make any proposal as far as purchasing the building any time soon.”

The old board approved the current athletic budget as presented, with Joynt noting that athletics should almost be self-supporting for the current school year.

In final action of the old school board, the official canvass of the Sept. 8 school board election was reviewed and approved on a unanimous vote.

In final action, Superintendent Joynt presented appreciation plaques to outgoing board members Dave VanOosbree and Kent Egland, thanking them for their years of service to the board.

At that point, the board adjourned and Board Secretary Pat Swanson administered the oath of office to newly-elected board members Tammy Naig and Kim Campbell, along with Karla Anderson, who won re-election to her seat on the board.

Balloting for board president was conducted, with Anderson winning re-election to that post, and board member Steve Pelzer was elected vice-president.

Moving into new business, the board heard a concern from Lynnea McCarthy, who operates a state-licensed daycare operation near the Super 8 motel. Joynt opened the discussion by noting that two requests for in-town bus stops at unlicensed daycares had been denied, and that he had been forced to deny McCarthy’s request because currently, all of the district’s buses are operating at capacity, and students are riding the buses right at the time limits set by the Department of Education.

“I guess I’m wondering if there just couldn’t be a bus that could pick up daycare kids only,” McCarthy said to the board. “I have two or three kids, three or four days a week that need rides to school. I’ve been taking them on my own, but if there are early dismissals this winter, I don’t have enough room in my vehicle to pick them all up at one time, and that becomes a concern for the parents.”

McCarthy continued, “I think it should be free to have the kids picked up. That’s why we pay taxes for the schools.”

Joynt explained that Iowa law requires elementary students to live two miles from a school to qualify for free transportation. “Our district put in a policy several years ago, allowing licensed daycares to request pickups, and set a fee of $40 a month for that service. We just charge to cover the extra cost of the extra travel.”

“I’d be willing to pay the $40 for someone to come and pick the kids up,” McCarthy replied.

According to Joynt, the request had been discussed with the route drivers, but because of the numbers of students on the buses, and the time many had been riding the bus when they arrived in town, the drivers felt they would run out of time before they could make the extra stop.

Currently, Emmetsburg buses have nine general stops around the community, and stop at five licensed daycares.

“The biggest concern here is the time factor,” Anderson said.

“Elementary kids can only ride one hour, and high school kids can ride 75 minutes, Joynt said, citing state regulations.

The board members discussed various ideas, but kept running into the same time constraint concerns without arriving at an answer.

“This is the only licensed daycare that we’re not dealing with,” noted board member Don Hagen, “I wish we could work something out here.

“I guess for now I would tell you that we’ll keep working on it, and hopefully we can come up with some kind of arrangement for you,” Anderson told McCarthy, to bring the discussion to a close.

“I’d appreciate that,” McCarthy replied, “Because I’d be willing to pay the $40 fee.”

In other items of business, the board accepted the resignation of John Kennedy as the Assistant Softball Coach, pending acquisition of a suitable replacement. The board also approved the recommendation of Zach Hamann for the Middle School wrestling coaching position, and shared duties of Assistant Varsity Coach, with Coach Nate Harwood. Also approved were volunteer wrestling coaches Tony Stubbs, Bob Roethler and Rich Stillman.

Approval was also give to members of the Emmetsburg FFA to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana in Oct. The group will travel via a shared charter bus with other chapters from northwest Iowa to the event.

A date of Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. was also set for a public hearing on an application for an Early Start/Innovative School Year calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. The hearing will be held in the Emmetsburg High School library.