Board talks process changes of choosing salutatorian and valedictorian

The Red Oak School Board is looking to add three new buses to the districts’ vehicle fleet. On the agenda of the Jan. 25 meeting was discussion on the lease of three new 77-passenger buses. Superintendent Ron Lorenz said the lease would include one bus with a luggage rack to replace three currently being leased by the district.
“Our current bus lease expires in September of this year. With supply chain issues and manufacturing backlogs, there are likely to be delays in getting replacements built to our specifications, so we need to take some action to have a plan in place for when the lease expires,” Lorenz advised.
While purchasing the buses was an option, Lorenz said he was in favor of leasing the buses rather than making a purchase.
“We feel this allows us to reserve more of our Personal Plant and Equipment Levy funds in the case of any unforeseen circumstances and keeps the funds a little more liquid. Leasing also minimizes the maintenance costs. The buses are under warranty, so anything that comes up is paid for. The lease concept has served us pretty well,” Lorenz said.
The board received two quotes. Lorenz favored the lease of three Vision model diesel buses from Bluebird, at a total yearly lease cost of $76,463, as opposed to the higher quote of $84,341 annually.
“Diesel engine buses are a bit more expensive than gas engine buses, but are also more efficient, last longer, and get a bit more fuel economy. Also, access to diesel pumps is much more convenient than the gasoline pumps at our supplier,” Lorenz commented.
Another bonus to diesel engine buses, according to Lorenz, was that there was a greater ease in getting the buses serviced.
“We have options to get the buses serviced in the city of Red Oak, or Council Bluffs if we need to, which is half the distance of taking a gasoline powered bus to Des Moines to get them serviced. The service challenges for gas powered buses is extreme, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend an entire day hauling buses to Des Moines for service.”
The board approved the three-year lease of the Bluebird Vision model buses, as presented, with a lease amount of $76,463 annually.
Lorenz then proposed the purchase of a Thomas Minotaur new minibus with a wheelchair lift and a 14 person capacity. The current bus in the fleet is one of the oldest buses they have, and they are starting to experience liability issues with it.
“A number of the parts are no longer manufactured, and so we have to have a plan to replace them. The smaller buses are also more convenient for in-town use, and most of the students served on the route are in-town. Also, the bus only requires a chauffeur’s license, which makes it much easier to find people to drive it,” Lorenz said.
Cost of the bus was $90,478. Lorenz said they were recommending purchase of the bus rather than a lease since it was only one vehicle and the price differential was not that significant over leasing. Also, the bus was gasoline powered due to availability.
“We don’t have multiple quotes on this vehicle because other companies don’t manufacture these types of buses anymore. Also, they’re in high demand, so it will probably be 18 months before the new bus is built and delivered,” Lorenz stated.
The purchase of the Thomas Minotour minibus, at a cost of $90,478, was approved by the school board.
In other business, the board:
• Approved offering a junior varsity girls soccer program for the 2023 spring season.
• Approved the 2023-24 high school course book.
• Approved out of state trips for the third grade to travel to the Durham Museum in Omaha, Neb. March 9; the school band to travel to Honor Band Feb. 3-5, and the school choir to travel to Lincoln, Neb. Feb. 9-11, and March 27.
• Accepted Vivan Ogden as junior/senior high school volunteer assistant track coach for the 2022-23 school year.
• Approved the hire of Clay Selberg and Dillon Wiser as senior high school wrestling assistant coaches for the 2022-23 school year; Brittany Evans, Josephine Dalke, and Allison Petty as paraprofessionals for the 2022-23 school year; and Lisa Joint as an accounting clerk at the administrative office for the 2022-23 school year.
• Approved the resignation of Laura Laprell as senior high school fall play director and yearbook sponsor for the 2023-24 school year; Tammi VanMeter as administrative assistant, effective Jan. 30; and Cheri Klimek as junior high school student council sponsor at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
• Discussed a new system for the graduation ceremony and scholarship recognition.
On Nov. 7, the board approved striking policy that pertained to valedictorian and salutatorian selection. With the elimination of weighted grade point averages, in 2018, there was no longer a reliable way to distinguish the top two students in each class from all the others who earned a 4.0 grade point average. The board directed the administration to determine alternate ways to recognize outstanding scholars and select J.R. Inman Scholarship recipients.
The new proposal recognized the top 10% of students in each graduating class by conferring academic achievement medals. The medals would be awarded during the Academic Awards Night and worn during the graduation ceremony. Recipients would be asked to stand and be formally recognized during the graduation ceremony as well.
The J.R. Inman Scholarship would be awarded to the two outstanding academic students during the Academic Awards Night. It would be awarded based on grade point averages if possible. If two students could not be distinguished by grade point average alone, the following criteria would be used to select J.R. Inman Scholarship recipients:
Cumulative GPA; the total number of the highest academic level or most rigorous courses completed in each core content area, such as AP History, AP Calculus, or Physics; the total number of college courses completed; and the most recent Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) standard scores in English-Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. The legacy of J.R. Inman would be formally noted and honored when the top 10% of graduates are recognized.
Additionally, two graduating seniors would speak during the graduation ceremony. Students would apply to speak during graduation. These speakers would be selected by a committee of staff members based on a review of their academic records, co-curricular/extra-curricular participation, community service, character, and proposed talking points. One of these student speakers would be selected from among the top 10% of students. Another at-large student speaker would be selected from the remaining applications. That speaker need not be from among the top 10%.
The board was in favor of the proposal, and formal approval was scheduled to take place at the next regular board meeting.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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