Madison-Plains: No change in busing

(Posted July 14, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Local Schools students will be bused to school this year on the same schedule as last year.

On July 12, school board members beat back a proposal for two-tier busing, which called for kindergarten through sixth grader going in at 7:20 a.m. and students in grades seven through 12 going in at 8:40.

Superintendent Tim Dettwiller said the two-tier proposal would have saved the district money, made the district eligible for $295,000 in state funds, and eased traffic at the entrance to the school.

At a Madison Plains Advisory Council meeting prior to the school board meeting, parents objected to the initial proposal which would have had older students arriving first, followed by elementary and intermediate students. By the time of the school board meeting, the plan was flipped to have the lower grades arrive first.

Before learning of the flip, parents who attended the school board meeting voiced opposition to the original plan, citing the need for childcare or latchkey programs. Some even said they might have to quit their jobs in order to get their children off to school or be available when they returned home.

“I didn’t know about the flip,” said Julie Wight, one of the parents who objected to the two-tier plan.

Dettwiller said other area school districts are going to a two-tier plan this year. He also cited recent studies that show high school students perform better if their school classes start later.

Board member Dave Hunter wanted to table the issue.

“I have a lot to think about,” he said. “I’ve heard people say they would have to quit their jobs to take care of their kids. This is not a good fix.”

Hunter was the only one of the five board members who voted for tabling the issue.

On the question of whether to start the two-tier plan this year, Bob Butz, Hunter and Mark Mason voted against it, leaving the busing schedule the same as it was from last year. Classes begin Aug.15.

Retire/rehire

The board voted to accept the resignation of Dettwiller and rehire him for a period of three years at a lower salary.

Dettwiller offered to participate in the retire/rehire program in May. Board members put off a vote in June after a lengthy discussion.

In the state-authorized program, school employees can retire from their position and take their benefits, then be rehired at a lower salary with no benefits.

Dettwiller is taking a $10,000 pay cut, “making me the lowest paid superintendent in the county,” he said. He will be making $110,000.

He also gives up his $500 car allowance and his district paid State Teachers Retirement System payments.

“I will pay 20 percent of the benefits cost just like everyone else,” he said.

The change goes into effect July31.

Dettwiller was hired two years ago as superintendent after serving as district treasurer.

“We are very pleased Tim will remain at the helm of Madison-Plains,” Board President Mike Datz stated in a press release. “The board hired him two years ago with high expectations, and he has truly exceeded the goals that were put in place.”

With an eye to cost savings, Dettwiller changed the administrative structure from four principals to two. He also raised the standard of performance expectations of the staff and opened lines of communication with various district stakeholders.

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