Coleman Chooses Bieber As New School Bus ContractorIssue Date: February 28, 2018
Coleman School Board concerns about making a smooth transition to a new school bus contractor when long-time transportation provider Gary Camps retires his company on July 1 ended at the board meeting on Tuesday, March 27. By unanimous vote they accepted the bid from Dan Bieber on behalf of Bieber Transport, LLC. A formal contract will be prepared and presented for approval at their next meeting, which will be on Monday, March 19.
There were comments that not only is Bieber a local businessman, his bid was $1,000 lower than the nearest viable competitor, and Jim Bushmaker, who for years has been second in command at Camps Bus Service, will be working with Bieber to make a seamless transition.
Expectations are that most of the current drivers will be retained, which also pleased the board. Board members have often expressed satisfaction with the bus service and the care the drivers show for the children they transport.
Bieber and his wife Keri are both graduates of Coleman High School and their three children are all students at Coleman. They own and operate Dan Bieber Equipment at the junction of Hwy. 64 and 141 in Pound. Bieber said he is buying Camps' busses and related equipment and will move the operation to the Bieber Equipment site.
Barb Van Drisse, who heads the school board committee that had been assigned to seek bids and recommend a transportation contractor, said they narrowed the choice down to three bidders before reaching a unanimous decision to recommend Dan Bieber.
She said Bieber is working with the retiring company and Bushmaker is familiar with the routes and equipment, which should make a smooth transition. Also, awarding the contract to Bieber keeps the business in the community.
Board President Ryan Wendt asked if the committee had any concerns about the new contractor or the transition when the Camps contract ends on July 1.
VanDrisse indicated they did not. Barb Krause-Klug, also a member of the committee, said their main concern had been about getting a contractor with experience, but Bieber will be working with Bushmaker, who has the necessary knowledge and experience after working for years with Camps. She noted Bieber is a member of the community, and she too was pleased that the business will continue to be locally owned.
District Administrator Doug Polomis also expressed approval of the choice, and that the new contractor will apparently continue the Camps tradition of providing caring, friendly and reliable service, and of treating the kids well. He noted Wendt was "absolutely right" last month when he said the bus driver is the first school-connected person the students see in the morning and the last one at night, so the driver somewhat sets the tone for the whole day.
"We wish them good luck on a big endeavor, and we wish them many years to come," Wendt declared after the board unanimously agreed to accept Bieber as its new student transportation provider.
When presenting the 2018-2019 high school course description book for board approval Polomis expressed some major concerns about a recent ruling of the Wisconsin Higher Learning Commission that starting in the year 2022, teachers in the core classes will be required to hold a Masters Degree in the subject or a Masters in a related subject with 18 additional credits if the students are to continue getting simultaneous high school and college credits. Because of this, a planned course in economics will not be offered next year.
Polomis said he will meet with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College President Dr. Jeffrey Rafn and others on Thursday,March 1 to talk about the possibility of getting this ruling changed, and on Friday, March 2 he will meet with legislators to make them aware of the change.
He also will meet with the teachers at Coleman who are directly affected by the ruling. He is looking at ways to get these teachers certified.
Polomis said if the Higher Learning Commission ruling is not changed Coleman will not be able to continue offering many of the four credit NWTC classes. Because of the current dual credit opportunity, most Coleman students graduate with 20 or more college credits already earned, and if the ruling changes they will lose that opportunity. One student last year graduated from high school with 38 of the approximately 120 credits needed for a degree.
Polomis and several board members were concerned that losing that chance might lead many students to discard ideas of pursuing a higher education degree.
"We do our best to provide these opportunities for our kids," Polomis declared. He said if Coleman does not get its teachers certified and the Higher Education Commission ruling does not change, students can look at Youth Options Classes, but that too is an expense for the school district.
The course description booklet was adopted as presented. Polomis said scheduling for the coming year will start in March.
Elementary/Middle School Principal Yvette Marshall presented plans for summer school, which will run through the month of June. Swimming classes are an issue. In past years families paid $40 for the swimming lessons at the Bond Center in Oconto, and there was no problem filling the classes. Then the state Department of Public Instruction told them they cannot charge, so the had to change the policy last year.
This led to too many students wanting to go to swim lessons, and a first come, first serve policy for the trip to Oconto led to confusion. She and Polomis had worked out a priority plan for this year in which the first opportunity would be for older students who had not yet had the swim lessons, and then down to the younger ones as space allows. She said rather than offering the chance to learn the finer points of swimming the goal is to make sure each student at least gets the opportunity to learn the basics so they can stay afloat and be safe in the water.
Board members expressed approval of using this as a basis for deciding who takes the swim classes. Marshall said if the Bond Center can provide the time they may add another section of eight classes in the swimming course so more students can be served.
The board was happy and surprised to receive a $450 donation from Brown County to be used toward the "Every 15 Minutes" program that is planned for April at Coleman.
"It's really cool that Brown County is doing this," Wendt commented, adding that no part of the Coleman District is in Brown County.
Wendt is also a supervisor on Oconto County Board, and he wondered if Marinette and Oconto counties had been approached for a donation. He intends to bring it up with Oconto County Board, and suggested someone from Marinette County should approach them. He noted the counties both spend money on programs to prevent and drug and alcohol abuse, and the Every 15 Minutes programs do just that.
On Polomis' recommendation the board approved setting up a special activity account for the new Archery Club that was approved last year as a school club sport. He said a man from the community wants to donate $1,500 to the group to be used for archery supplies, and they want to be sure the money is used specifically for that club.
The board also accepted a $2,720.85 donation from the Booster Club.
Staff members have spent months devising an Academic and Career Planning (ACP) program for high school students. Mrs. Allen gave the board an overview look at it last month. After discussion at Tuesday night's meeting the board unanimously approved the program, which is aimed at making it easier for students to transition to the work world after completing their educations.
A major requirement of the ACP is that each student complete a portfolio that can continue to access on-line after graduation. The portfolio is to include resumes, letters of recommendation, and documentation of interests, activities, awards, etc. to use when applying for jobs. Polomis said ample time is allowed during the school year for students to get the portfolio done. Any student who does not complete it will be allowed to get their diploma on schedule, but will be barred from participating in graduation ceremonies. Polomis said this had been a recommendation of teachers on the ACP Planning Committee, who felt they needed "teeth" to enforce the requirement.
Marshall and Polomis both presented reports on student activities, accomplishments and celebrations during the past month.
Marshall said the PTO does a lot of good work, but has very few members remaining. Volunteers are badly needed for next year, she said, and invited anyone interested in sharing this part of school to get more information from her or their child's teacher.
The board approved first readings of a long list of policy revisions required due to recent changes in state and federal laws, and those policies will come up for approval at the March 19 board meeting.
The referendum date is approaching, and Polomis reported he and Marshall have been attending meetings of many local organizations and governing boards to make sure they are all informed.
In more routine business, the board approved hiring Zac Pasdo as full time Custodian III, and advancing part-time Custodian Cindy Montgomery to a full time Custodian II post to replace him.
They accepted the resignation of long-time High School Special Ed Teacher Tim Gould, and the resignation of Jason Nieminski as JV Volleyball coach after 14 years in that position.
Gould thanked the district for being able to spend the last 26 years of his 32 years of teaching at Coleman. "It has been a great career and all the memories of students and staff will always be with me," he wrote. He said he is still interested in continuing as the JV Coach on the wrestling team and Head Wrestling Coach Kevin Casper is in support of that as well.
They also approved Mitchell Woulf as a volunteer Boys Basketball coach.
At the start of the meeting Polomis, VanDrisse, Krause-Klug and Scott Herzog had reported briefly on sessions they attended at the recent Wisconsin Education Association (WCA) convention. At the end of the meeting, Polomis presented Herzog with a framed certificate from WCA recognizing his 20 years of service on the Coleman School Board.
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