New bus purchase discussed at Hancock School Board meeting

When the Hancock School Board approves the budget for the next school year, they will have a big purchase to consider. That is for the purchase of a new school bus. Superintendent Paul Carlson told the board at the meeting on May 20 that the last time the school purchased a new bus was in 2020 and a used bus in 2022.

He added that the new bus from 2020 has over 70,000 miles on it. The district has seven buses and each is starting to show its age. That is to the extent of slightly over $40,000 in repair cost this last year.

He obtained three quotes for a new bus that would also take into consideration trading in one of the buses. The quotes were from North Central for a Blue Bird bus Istate Truck Centers for a Thomas bus and Hoglund for an International bus.

The quotes could not be compared ‘apples to apples’ but were close enough to compare. The Blue Bird bus could be purchased in gas instead of diesel that would cost $2,000 less than the diesel version. Both used a state bid and then added on extra items needed.

The Blue Bird gas fueled bus came to $124,240, the International was $135,944, and the Thomas was $135,403.50. After some discussion, it was decided to have the finance committee look at this as they make plans for the next budget. The committee includes board members Brett Duncan, Justin Cronen and Kevin Koehl. They will be meeting soon to discuss the budget for the 2024-2025 school year.

Carlson also wanted to discuss a flooring issue in the school. Several years ago when the construction was being done and new floor tile laid in the north hallway, the board approved purchasing enough tile to someday do the other hallways in order for them all to match. Carlson talked to Troy at Hancock Flooring about the installation and learned that the current hall flooring is on top of tiles that contain asbestos. If these are disturbed, the asbestos must be removed.

Troy knew of  a way to do it without disturbing the other tile but this was time consuming and very expensive. Carlson felt it would be worth it to just get rid of the old tile and the asbestos below it. He estimated the cost at about $21,000. The school is saving quite a bit by already having the tile and the installation cost would be $15,000.

The board was in favor of doing this and Carlson said that long-term facility and maintenance funds could be used to pay for the work.

Principal Tim Pahl presented his report which included an enrollment estimate for next school year. There will be 33 students attending preschool next year and three more that are eligible but choose not to go. The kindergarten class for the year following could then be at 36. Taking into account the students who have moved into the district and the ones leaving, he estimated the enrollment to be at 441 next year. However he emphasized that this is a very preliminary number.

In staffing, the school has an open Science position and has had one applicant. The band instructor position is also open after accepting the resignation of Brystin Lamont. There have been ten applicants. When asked about the marching band, Pahl said it would depend on who is hired and when they can start.

The board also approved a request for an unpaid leave of absence for one year from Kayla Nohl. She has taught preschool for several years and requested the leave for medical reasons.

The board approved the tenure for Amy Schmidgall who has been working toward a dual licensure and has just completed this. They approved the non-renewal of probationary teacher Jacob Wymer. A leave request for elementary teacher Lacee Biesterfeld was approved. 

On June 17 there will be a Stevens County School Safety Functional Exercise held at the Hancock School. Several area responders will be conducting exercises at the school that evening. Since this is the date of the next board meeting, the time for the meeting was moved to 4 p.m. allowing the board members to attend the exercise if they desired.