BY VIRGINIA CODY
The Mountain View School Board resumed discussion Monday with the public on school bus contracts.
The subject was raised at the Aug. 15 board meeting.
Corinna Kinney of Hop Bottom expressed concern the board has been acting with disregard for existing drivers who might have wanted to switch routes and for others who might have wanted to begin driving for the district. But because of fluctuating rules on just who is eligible to drive, the district may have opened itself up to lawsuits, she said.
“There are too many unwritten stipulations they’ve been subjected to,” Kinney said, adding that some drivers have been told they can’t drive for the district because they live outside the district yet when the contracts were finally issued, they were issued to individuals who did live outside the boundaries.
Kinney also requested that if the school board becomes aware of the potential loss of a driver earlier in the year that an announcement be made so those wanting to drive for the district can be prepared in advance.
Board president James Zick agreed this would be an ideal situation but pointed out that the drivers should also be beholden to the district and advise it as soon as practicable if they anticipate leaving their positions.
“That goes both ways,” he said, adding that this year, the board learned of the loss of certain drivers exceptionally late in the year.
Board member Dava Rinehart-Cowan agreed the district needed to create written procedures on just who was eligible to drive.
She also pointed out that new contracts issued to drivers required them to provide 60 days notice if they planned to give up a route.
Board member Kevin M. Griffiths took exception to the 60-day notice saying, “The contracts are up in June. They don’t have a contract. What are you going to do if they decide they’re not going to continue?”
Kinney also requested that the substitute drivers’ lists be accomplished earlier in the year because she and other substitute bus drivers need to know whether they have work to count on.
In the end, six drivers were added to the substitute bus driver list. One individual was added to the car/van substitute bus driver list.
Griffithsalso expressed concern about theElkLakeSchool Districtproviding bus service to the district to transportMountain Viewstudents to the Susquehanna County Career andTechnologyCenter.
“We have a contract with them?” he asked.
Board president James W. Zick advised that Elk Lake had been providing that service to other districts for years and that he believed it was due to the availability of buses in that area.
While at least one member of the public, Dan Anthony, expressed pleasure at finding out the bus service was being supplied without cost to the district,Griffithshad another take.
“We have contract? There was no board vote on that. This was decided administratively. It is illegal,” he said.
Also at the board meeting, several individuals were on hand to request information about the district’s water testing program in light of recent natural gas drilling going on in the area immediately surrounding the school.
Craig Sautner of Dimock, who has a grandchild attending one of theMountain Viewschools asked whether the district had done any water testing.
“Did you do baseline testing,” he asked.
Chichura responded by saying that the district is required to test its water monthly and does complete baseline testing annually. The last time a baseline test was done was in April.
Sautner also asked whether the testing covered radioactivity. Chichura was unable to answer the question.
Another individual asked whether test results are supplied to the residents.
Chichura replied that anyone interested in finding out just what the test results were need only to file a “Right to Know” request and since he was the “Right to Know” officer for the district, he would ensure the information was provided immediately.
Area resident Bret Jennings, wondered what the actual definition of “complete” was saying that he himself had conducted water tests.
“What’s your standard? The Penn State TierIIItest or a test that is done by a hydrologist with experience?”
Chichura said he couldn’t answer that kind of question and didn’t know if anyone else on the board could.
Rinehart-Cowan said the tests cost around $700 and are being done by the company that has done the school district’s water testing all along.
Another individual in the audience asked the location of the property closest to the schools on which drilling was underway.
Zick indicated that property was his and that it was approximately one-half mile from the school.
Julie Sautner, also of Dimock, asked whether anyone in the area adjacent to the school had experienced any ground water contamination or migration of methane and was told by Zick “not from ours.”
Zick added that there had been problems in the past but that there weren’t any now.
Prior to adjournment, Chichura reminded board members and the public that the mobile agricultural laboratory that will be used in the elementary grades will be at the Harford Fair and will be open to visitors through Friday,11 a.m.-7 p.m.