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Hancock school to purchase new bus

With increasing enrollment, the demand for additional transportation follows. The Hancock school district increased the number of bus routes this year from three to four because of the growing enrollment. There are also two vans used to transport students. When you add into this mix, transportation to extra-curricular activities and field trips, there never seems to be enough buses available. Then if a bus or two has mechanical trouble the situation gets even worse.

These have been some of the issues the school administration and school bus drivers have had to face recently. Therefore, Supt. Jerry Martinson asked the Hancock school board members to consider a bus purchase in the near future. At the board meeting on Dec. 16, Martinson distributed a bus and van replacement schedule which called for a bus lease or purchase every four years. The most recent new bus was leased in 2011 and prior to that, one was leased in 2009. The lease on the earlier bus is set to expire soon.

Hancock has a fleet of six buses, a mini-bus and two vans. The oldest bus in the fleet is Bus  No. 10 which is a 1992 Thomas with 242,527 miles. Recently some of the newer buses have had mechanical problems and the drivers have had to use the 1992 bus on routes or for activities. To say the least, this is not a reliable situation. The other buses in the fleet are a 2000, 2005, 2008, and 2009.

After discussing the pros and cons of putting off the bus purchase, the board members felt there was a need now for a new bus and the fund balance was healthy enough to accomodate the purchase. The board authorized Martinson to purchase a bus based on the specifications presented and discussed by the board.

The board members also approved the 2013 pay 2014 tax levy for $711,449.25. This is a 25.02 percent increase in the levy amount. The increase is due to the new school construction and remodeling project. Earlier in the meeting a Truth in Taxation hearing was held with no one from the public present for that meeting.

Other action

• Principal Tim Pahl thanked the students and everyone who donated to the recent food drive. It was a huge success. He also thanked everyone who helped set up and take down risers and other items for the winter concert.

• Congratulations were offered to Sami Schmidgall and Taylor Holleman as the 2013-14 HHS Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Award nominees. Holleman was also congratulated on his All-State football awards.

• The board approved Jen Shaw as the kindergarten para and the hiring of Johnnita Luthi as the preschool para.

• Supt. Jerry Martinson submitted his resignation effective the end of the school year. The board members continue to work with Principal Tim Pahl on the transition period during which he will take on the superintendent duties.

• The board decided to leave the asbestos abatement portion of the construction project in the building project budget rather than putting it on Health and Safety. Putting it under Health and Safety would have been an additional cost to taxpayers. The construction budget still has about $103,000 in the contingency fund which will be used for technology and furnishing.

The January meeting of the school board will be held on the fourth Monday due to Martin Luther King Day. It will be held on Jan. 27 starting at 6 p.m.