by Kathleen Duff
The Grand Island Board of Education held its annual organizational meeting on Monday evening in the Veronica E. Connor Middle School Little Theater. The agenda included the election and swearing in of David Goris to his second term as board president and of Paul Krull as vice president. The board approved a lengthy list of appointments and designations with the Island Dispatch listed again as the official newspaper of Grand Island Schools.
In ongoing capital project planning, trustees discussed the possibility of locating access to the proposed loop road to run behind Charlotte Sidway School between the Grand Island Post Office and the Rite Aid Pharmacy. Last week, the board held a neighborhood meeting with Baseline Road residents to discuss the three possibilities for a new transportation facility behind the school and to air concerns about the road, which will direct buses into and out of school property. Originally, site plans showed the loop road to run alongside the Sidway athletic fields and St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Trustees will now study this alternate site.
At a public meeting last week with the board and capital project planners, Baseline Road residents voiced concerns about school bus traffic patterns and indicated interest in putting the access road to the bus garage further away from the front of their homes. Planners, however, have contended that running the loop road closer to St. Martin's would reduce congestion and provide off-street parking for parents and children using the fields.
Trustees also discussed relocating the building and grounds staff to the new transportation center area. Building and Grounds Supervisor Tom Rachow said that moving his department from Eco Island on Staley Road would give them more space for storage of equipment and a fair amount of savings in fuel and time to go between school buildings. Rachow estimated those savings to be approximately $17,000 per year.
In another matter related to buses, Transportation Director Jack Burns addressed the board about conversion of the district fleet to natural gas (methane) vehicles. He stated that methane vehicles run very cleanly and produce more BTUs than any diesel engine. Fuel mileage is better as well.
Burns cautioned, however, that the cost to convert current buses to natural gas would be $30,000 per bus. Also, the new garage would have to have appropriate ventilation. Filling the new bus tanks would have to be scheduled at the right time of day, as gas compressors tend to be noisy and take a fair amount of time to fill a tank.
"The numbers do not favor (at this time) a transition to natural gas fuel for Grand Island school buses," Burns said. He also stated that as more school districts go with the alternate fuel, prices and cost of refitting will go down.
In his business and finance report, Joe Giarrizzo, director of business and finance, said that high school lunch prices will increase in the fall due to new federal nutritional standards. Giarrizzo said that school lunches are getting more complicated and therefore, more expensive to produce.