The need for the change is due to a shortage of shuttle buses and because some buses are consistently late picking up students at several of the secondary schools. There were several possible solutions, including hiring a significant number of new bus drivers, spreading the day out further from start to finish, or moving elementary schools to the second wave of buses.
“It was felt that neither of the first two choices listed were feasible,” Hartzler stated, “especially considering the severe shortage of bus drivers.”
One of the primary reasons for the change was to decrease the amount of wait time after school for the middle school students creating a more controlled and safer environment. There was also a desire to separate the sixth and seventh grade arrival and departure times due to current overlapping of buses and traffic issues.
The change in school hours will allow the district to continue to provide the current number of shuttles scheduled throughout the school day. The proposed schedule meets the request to have 7th and 8th grade on the same wave and before the High School and Freshman Academy. It also keeps the High School and Freshman Academy on the same wave. The new times also reduce the overall length of the school day, and the sixth graders will get out of school 10 minutes earlier than the current schedule.
Ken Kinnear Named Board President
As part of its annual reorganization, Ken Kinnear was elected president of the Union Public Schools Board of Education.
Heather McAdams was elected vice president; Stacey Roemerman as clerk; Joey Reyes as deputy clerk. Newly re-elected Dr. Chris McNeil also serves as a Board member.
Board Approves Purchase of 79 Interactive Panels
Board members approved spending up to $174,899 for 79 new interactive panels from Trafera, LLC.
Throughout the district, teachers rely on these panels to demonstrate instruction on a large electronic display board. Many teachers are using equipment that is at least 10 to 15 years old. This old infrastructure has become very difficult to support and for teachers to trust it will work every day, according to Todd Borland, executive director of Information Technology.
This purchase will provide 28 65-inch and 51 75-inch Newline interactive panels. The panels will be distributed throughout the district.
In other action, the Board:
Renewed an agreement of the Incident IQ Platform with IQ Assets for a cost of $86,441 and a purchase of Incident IQ Ticketing for $35,586, for a total purchase price of $122,027. It is imperative that Technology maintain the ability to electronically assign assets individually, Borland stated. Incident IQ allows for quick access to check in and check out devices from a scanner or a mobile device. Almost all technology assets are currently stored in our version of Incident IQ that allows the Technology department to quickly identify the location of all assets and to assign individuals to the asset if appropriate.
This purchase will also allow Technology to migrate the district’s Help Desk system to the Incident IQ platform, Borland continued. The integration with the ticketing product and the asset management product will allow us to track history of repairs, assign work orders for actual assets, and other valuable integrations. The ticketing solution will run on a mobile device so technicians can easily carry an iPod touch to enter work orders and track progress.
Approved a contract with ESS South Central, LLC., to become Union's provider of daily substitutes for the 2022-2023 school year. “We have struggled to maintain enough substitutes to cover our open classrooms,” said Jay Loegering, executive director of Human Resources. ESS is a dedicated service provider for substitutes, and offers them weekly pay, benefits, and quicker turnaround on hiring, as well as positions at other districts if Union’s opportunities are filled. ESS has shown the ability to staff at high levels with local districts as well as larger districts in nearby states.
The fee for ESS's services will be a mark-up of just over 30% on our substitute daily rates, however the district saves on payroll taxes, workers compensation and ACA tracking, as these substitutes are employees of ESS and not of Union Public Schools. The total cost to the district is estimated to be 5 percent higher than what our expenses are currently, Loegering said.
Updated its attendance policy to allow for any COVID-19 related absences to be considered a significant medical condition.
Approved the purchase of a district plan from TalkingPoints – a text phone messaging service – for three years for $114,750. Union’s current contract with Remind101 is set to expire. TalkingPoints provides teacher/administration/parent communication through text message or the TalkingPoints app. The service provides superior translation services, so all parties receive all messages in their preferred language. The service does not reveal cell phone numbers and parents can choose to opt in or out of receiving messages.
Approved the purchase of Nearpod’s online engagement software for two years for $140,784. Nearpod's online student engagement platform provides an interactive lesson delivery that can be used both in-person or during distance learning. This engagement platform integrates directly into Union's Canvas program and provides a library of editable lessons and video content. This purchase includes English Learner content that is being used with EL students grades 6-12. The purchase includes professional development consultation.