District Continues to Monitor Bus Service
The district is continuing to experience bus route delays as the bus contractor, First Student, struggles to get enough bus drivers to staff the routes.
Jessica Donato, the chief school business official, reported to the Board of Education that prior to the start of school, the bus company gave no indication there would be such an extent of challenges.
As of September 24th, of the 22 routes that run in the district, there are six routes that continue to be delayed. She said the root cause of the issue is the lack of qualified bus drivers, both locally and nationally. Since that time, additional drivers have been added and delayed routes are down to two.
The bus company reported that it has hired recruiters, increased the hourly wage from $18 to $21, increased the minimum daily hours from four hours to five hours, and is paying driver candidates for training. The company is also offering sign-on and referral bonuses.
Training involves a 17-hour behind-the-wheel course and a two-week waiting period for background checks and to receive state certification. The bus company reported they hope to be fully staffed by October 1.
In the meantime, the district monitors the status of routes daily and shares information with the schools and parents. School staff members are riding along with new drivers and substitute drivers to help them navigate unfamiliar routes.
Issues are being logged at each school, and appropriate penalties will be assessed based on the contract, Mrs. Donato said.
Township Educators Coordinate Resources
Administrators within Northfield Township hold monthly meetings to coordinate resources and work with the high school on a variety of issues.
“We are working together on data related to the PSAT 8/9 and course placements for eighth-grade students,” Dr. Larry Hewitt, superintendent, reported. While the College Board does not recommend test prep, it is important for students to know test-taking strategies. Assistant Superintendent Kris Raitzer said they are also making sure that students’ knowledge of content covered in their math courses is fresh so they are prepared for the test.
“Instruction that happens on a daily basis is the most important aspect,” Dr. Raitzer said.
This year the staff is much more aware of the content of the PSAT 8/9, she said. A visiting member of the College Board also
created a video for parents
about the exam. Dr. Scott Meek, NBJH principal, holds a parent night in late October, and the high school is sending out letters with testing times and an FAQ.
District 225 shared their 2020-21 calendar, which the elementary districts will work off of to shape their school year calendars.
Specialty Firm to Review Safety and Security
A firm that specializes in safety and security audits of schools has been approved to review the physical, operational and technical security components of the district’s four buildings.
The buildings will be assessed against industry best practices and include security policies and procedures, training, and emergency preparedness. Each school building and property perimeter will receive a detailed inspection. A technical survey will assess areas such as access control, video surveillance, and intercom communications.
Guidepost Solutions LLC was selected for the work after a review and evaluation of three firms was conducted.
Pulaski Day is Banked for Third Snow Day
After having to call off school for four days due to inclement weather in the 2018-19 school year, Dr. Hewitt proposed that if the district faces the same situation this year, the district will hold school on Pulaski Day, which is Monday, March 2, 2020.
The school year is tentatively scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 3rd. The district could use two emergency days to end on Friday, June 5, before Pulaski Day would become a student attendance day. The district utilized Pulaski Day last year, and Dr. Hewitt wanted to make families aware of the fallback plan for the coming winter season. Summer School is scheduled to start on Tuesday, June 9, which will allow time to prepare buildings and set up classrooms.