(April 5, 2019) Policies and requests were approved during the monthly Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, March 19.

Bus contract replacement

After the announcement in February of a bus contractor retiring, a replacement was assigned during last week’s meeting.

To qualify to be a bus contractor, an applicant must be at least 21, have five years of driving experience, on the current list of approved bus drivers, able to provide a bond if required by the Board of Education, a resident of Worcester County for at least one year prior to application for a bus contract, reside in the county for the duration of the contract and have no evidence of a criminal record.

Jason Donoway will take over the bus route for students going to Cedar Chapel Special School, effective June 30, having met the requirements and receiving approval from the board.

Absence policy

Updates regarding intervention leave were included in Policy III-D-19 – Absence of Employees as a Result of Assault or Intervening in Fights as presented.

“It was brought to our attention that our language and our policy did not match what the language was in the code, so we have made those changes,” Dr. Annette Wallace said during the meeting.

The updated policy now includes language that states an employee of a county board who is absent due to physical disability that results from an assault while in the scope of board employment shall be kept on full pay status instead of sick leave during the period of absence.

The policy also requires each county board establish rules and regulations for the entitlement and use of assault leave, including a requirement that an employee provide: a signed statement that justifies the use of assault leave; and if medical attention is required, a certificate from a licensed physician that states the nature and duration of the disability.

The policy update was unanimously approved by the board members.

Bus replacement request

Kim Heiser from the Transportation Office requested an increase from 13 spare buses to 14.

The public school system has 13 spare buses in its fleet. Because of an increased demand for buses for field trips, athletic events, after-school activities and to cover for occasional mechanical breakdowns, bus contractors sometime have no replacement vehicle.

Additionally, all of the spare buses in the northern area of the county are located outside of the Berlin area. Heiser recommended allocating one more spare bus to be kept in Berlin.

Susan Hutchinson, a contractor from the Berlin area, has volunteered to provide spare bus service. Hutchinson was approved to purchase a new bus during the January board meeting. Her current bus has two years of service remaining. Hutchinson intends to make her current bus a spare for the 2019-2020 school year and use her newly approved bus for her regular run.

The process was approved by all but one board member, with Sara Thompson abstaining from the vote.

Showell Elem. update

The fifth Showell Elementary update was presented by Facilities Planner Joe Price and Oak Constructing Project Manager Bill Moschler to the Board of Education since construction initially started back in October.

In the past 30 days, temporary site access to the road has been completed. Construction plans to install stormwater structures and piping, reinforce steel for foundation, install foundation concrete, masonry and damp proofing, plumbing and electrical work are underway. Within the next 30 days, crews will build steel structures.

Board member Sara Thompson praised the rapid results of the project.

“Every week I can see a big difference,” Thompson said. “I am amazed. I go by once a week, and I’m amazed that even with all the weather that we have had, how you are coming along. It looks great.”

Price credited the progress to Moschler and his team for their diligence.

“We’ve overcome the weather because Bill and his team and our contractors are out there at six in the morning, staying until 6:30 p.m., coming out on Saturdays to make up that schedule and it’s been incredible for the first three months,” Price said.

The school is expected to be completed in time for the Fall of 2020.

Grant money

Chief Safety Officer Steve Price described his recent trip to Annapolis on Friday, March 15, with the Maryland Center of School Safety. During this time, Worcester County received two safety grants, one for $243,000 and another for $24,500.

The smaller grant, according to Price, will be used for practicing safety evacuations.

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