A new activity bus will join Seaside’s fleet of school buses this school year.
With extended leg room and overhead storage, “it’s like an airplane,” Michelle Wunderlich, a school board member who head’s the transportation committee, said with a laugh. “Except it doesn’t take off.”
On Tuesday evening, the school board unanimously approved the $187,343 purchase of the bus.
“It’s still a gigantic school bus,” Wunderlich said. “But the seats are wider and there is more space in between them.”
The hope is the extra space will allow students to get more rest on their way home after sporting events, specifically on school nights. League games regularly require student-athletes to ride for more than an hour each way. During the playoffs, students can ride up to five hours.
Though school board members clarified the bus is not “fancy,” it will have air conditioning, and instead of continuous bench-like seats, each seat is separate from its neighbor. From the outside, however, it will resemble a regular yellow school bus.
“The kids, who are very much our size, are riding on the bus,” Wunderlich said. “They are adult-sized kids. It will be nice for those two to five hour bus rides that they often take.”
The bus also has the potential to be used on morning routes within the school district for nonathletic events. It is expected to arrive in December.
In other business on Tuesday, the school board approved a $46,617 emergency procurement for a leak at Seaside Heights Elementary.
Susan Penrod, the assistant superintendent, responded to the leak when a construction crew at the campus called and alerted her that the school hallways were covered with about 3 inches of water.
Fire Systems West Inc., a fire protection contractor, responded immediately and repaired the damage. The same contractor originally installed the system.
Though construction was already taking place on the campus, that did not cause the leak, according to Superintendent Sheila Roley. “It was just an old system that failed,” she said. “It was a 40-year-old pipe.”
Insurance was able to cover some of the expense, including the cost of new carpet, linoleum, paint, sheetrock and more. However, the school district was left with a $46,617 bill.
“They won’t cover what they consider ‘wear and tear’ on the pipe,” Justine Hill, the school district’s business manager, said of the insurance company.
“It was scary,” Hill said. “With water damage and other things, we just weren’t sure” if school would resume on time. But she said the situation was resolved quickly and will not impact the school’s start date or the construction of the building.
Jim Henry, of the consulting firm hired by the school district to manage the construction of the new campus in the Southeast Hills, also updated the school board on the progress.
Finalized contract documents for the middle and high school’s maximum price were set in July. One of the next goals is to complete the parking lots, bus loop and sidewalk pavement.
“This summer has been really busy,” he said. “Everyone is working really hard to get the Heights buttoned up and ready for school to start.”
Roley also presented the school district’s annual strategic plan, which was unanimously adopted by the school board.
The plan specifies two strategic goals that focus on preparing K-12 students with the emotional and academic skills to succeed in the community . Roley listed a number of performance indicators the district will work toward this school year, including increasing the number of students attending at least 95% of school days.
“We’re going to do a lot more than hope this year,” Roley said. “We’re pretty darn excited.”