Minford Superintendent Mark Wilcheck said the district will maintain two bus routes. One will pick-up elementary students and the other will pick-up junior high and high school students. The district will reduce from 18 routes along these two runs, to 16 routes. Each route runs twice a day. The district is also eliminating home pick-up and drop-off in some neighborhoods. Instead, they are asking some parents who live farther away from the bus route to have their children meet them at designated bus stops along the way.
One of the eliminated bus routes transports Minford students attending Notre Dame School in Portsmouth. The district is also consolidating a bus route with Bloom-Vernon School. Wilcheck said Bloom-Vernon buses already drive through the Minford district to take students from South Webster to the Scioto County Career Technical Center (CTC) in Lucasville. Minford is entering into a new agreement to pay Bloom-Vernon a fee to pick up Minford CTC students along the way.
Wilcheck said the cost would be determined by the amount of gas and employee time it would take Bloom-Vernon buses to pick up Minford students; but he’s confident it will still be a large savings to the district.
Because two bus routes are being eliminated, two full-time bus drivers — Rachel Jordan and Marcy Stapleton — have been notified this week the district will not renew their contracts in August. Both Jordan and Stapleton were the most recently hired bus drivers, and have been employed by the district for one year or less.
Wilcheck said the two laid-off positions will save the district $74,000. The remaining 16 bus drivers will not have a reduction in hours, pay or benefits. Those remaining bus drivers, and local members of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), are still very upset about the staff reductions.
“What do you want us to do? Something has got to give. We spend $133,000 in fuel and it’s going to be even more this year. The price of fuel ain’t changing, and plus I’ve got a bus fleet that has to be repaired and running every day,” Wilcheck said.
“We sent the OAPSE union a notice to negotiate ... and we got an e-mail back from the OAPSE representation in Athens, and they said ‘We’re not going to negotiate.’ So consequently — guys, I have to do what I have to do.”
The district has already settled a reduction agreement with the teachers’ union. The union agreed to a reduction in insurance, three furlough days, and will reduce the district paid retirement share from 18 to 16 percent. Wilcheck said no teachers were laid-off, but there were some vacant teaching positions that are not being filled.
“These are tough times. What do you want me to do?” Wilcheck asked again.
These district changes to the bus routes and staffing will be discussed in greater detail during community meetings at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, and Thursday, July 28 in the Minford High School Media Center.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.