By Rick Palsgrove
In a split vote, the Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a driver recruitment incentive plan in an effort to ensure there are enough school bus drivers available for duty.
“This is an incentive plan for the district’s part time employees to drive buses periodically when Petermann (the company the district contracts with for bus service) cannot find a substitute driver,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover. “This way our part time employees can earn more income and it helps resolve absentee and bus routing problems at a minimal cost to the district.”
Hoover said in January alone there were 281 cases of bus driver absences.
“It’s not good when students get home late,” said Hoover. “We’re trying to solve our transportation issues.”
Under the plan, part time district employees – such as aides, custodians, cooks, and other support personnel – can work as a substitute bus drivers as needed.
Groveport Madison will pay an incentive to district employees based on the number of days of dual service they work as substitute bus drivers. In addition to the $14.50 hourly rate paid by Petermann, Groveport Madison will pay the participating employees a bonus of $50 for five days of dual service, $100 for 10 days, and $150 for 15 or more days up to a maximum of $300 per month. District officials said the estimated annual cost to the district would be $72,000.
Petermann will provide the training and certification for the substitute drivers.
The board voted 3-2 to approve the plan, with board members Bryan Shoemaker, Mary Tedrow, and Nancy Gillespie in favor and Libby Gray and Chris Snyder opposing.
Last July, Groveport Madison and Petermann agreed to a five year contract for bus services.
“What other subcontractors do we negotiate their employees wages?” asked Gray. “I feel we negotiated the agreement (with Petermann) in good faith and for them to come back to us for more money is wrong. We had issues in the past with cooks working both as cooks and as bus drivers and when there was a late start we would have to bring in subs to cover the cooks while they drove buses. We were able to correct this issue during our last negotiations. Are we not going backwards with this proposal? If they (Petermann) are unable to fulfill their contract then maybe it’s time to look for a new transportation provider.”
Last December, the board rejected a Petermann proposal to increase the starting hourly wage for bus drivers to $16.50 and the top hourly wage from $23.75 to $24.25 at an additional cost of $155,956 per year. As part of this proposal, Petermann had asked Groveport Madison to fund $105,000 of this cost per year.
According to Petermann officials, the main factor causing delays on the district’s 63 bus routes is a shortage of bus drivers. They noted a combination of an improving economy that is luring drivers away to full time jobs elsewhere, and the fact the starting pay for bus drivers at Groveport Madison is the lowest in the area, is contributing to the driver shortage.
The starting pay for Petermann bus drivers at Groveport Madison is $14.50 per hour. In comparison, Canal Winchester pays $17.16, Hamilton Township pays $18.22, and Columbus pays $18.50.
Last summer Petermann raised the starting hourly wage by 16 percent and added a few other financial perks, but company officials said it was not enough to attract more drivers because other area districts increased their wages.
Groveport Elementary repairs
The board is considering a bid of $148,567 from Tremco WTI for repairs at Groveport Elementary.
The work would include: removing and replacing the roofs on the two rear stairwells, removing and replacing gutters, sealing gutter joints, coating roof hoods, repairing flashing, repairing stone coping, tuckpointing masonry around the roof over the auditorium, tuckpointing and resealing masonry around two front entrances, and replacing lentils on the north side of the connection to Middle School Central.
“It’s a labor intensive activity,” said Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent John Hurd.
Hurd said once the repairs are made, repairs will be made to the interior auditorium walls that were damaged by leaks.
Hurd said the school’s roof itself is in “decent shape.”
“After several evaluations, all signs indicate the majority of our issues are around the drainage and the masonry leaks,” said Hurd. “Our target for repair would be when school has released for the summer with the bulk of the the work completed within eight weeks, pending board approval in April.”
The board approved spending $363,169 (to be paid in three, installments of $121,056 over the next three years) for a 14 classroom modular unit to be installed at Sedalia Elementary. Once the payments are made, the district will own the modular.
“It (the modular) is actually in multiple sections that will be assembled, similar to what you see with the new modulars at the high school,” said Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner. “Work (to set up the modular) will begin in May and it will be ready for the start of the next school year.”
According to district officials, the modular is being put in place to help ease student overcrowding in the northern part of the school district.
OCC ticket price increases
Ticket prices for Ohio Capital Conference high school athletic contests, where an admission fee is charged, will increase by $1 in 2017-18. Adult tickets will cost $7 and student tickets will cost $5. According to Groveport Madison Schools Superintendent Bruce Hoover, it is the first ticket price increase by the OCC in more than 10 years. He said the ticket price increase will help offset the rising costs of paying for referees, umpires, and game officials.
Construction timetable for the new GM High School
Smoot Construction released a timetable of anticipated construction dates for Groveport Madison Local Schools’ new high school, which is currently being built behind the existing high school at 4475 S. Hamilton Road.
Ongoing work includes the masonry walls, structural steel, and roofing. Brick veneer work is to start in March. Drywall work will begin by mid-June. The building will be permanently enclosed by late September. Flooring work begins in early October. Work on the wood stage and gym floors starts in mid-December.
The high school is expected to be substantially completed by early May 2018 and will open for classes in the fall of 2018.
Demolition of the existing high school will take place in the summer of 2018. Softball fields and dugouts will be done by late October 2018. Site and paving is to be completed by late November 2018 and final close out work on the project by late December 2018.