The Frankfort Independent Schools board Monday approved further negotiations with Franklin County Schools for the services of a part-time mechanic.
FCS is asking FIS for $24,000 a year for the position. Historically, FIS had paid for parts and labor through a partnership with FCS. FIS has nine buses, which are housed on Ewing Street. To service the buses, FIS them to the FCS garage, Frankfort Superintendent Houston Barber said.
Barber presented data to the board about what the district has paid since starting the partnership with FCS about five years ago. FIS pays FCS on average $17,000 to $18,000 for parts and labor for a school year, according to a six-year study, Barber said. The $24,000 proposal is just for labor and does not include parts.
Board member Becky Barnes voiced concern about FIS buses not taking priority over FCS buses in the proposed arrangement and Barber said wording could be included in the agreement that said this mechanic's priority could be FIS buses.
Barnes also asked whether FIS has explored options with other area school districts. Barber said that it has, but since FIS does not have a current working relationship with them, there currently is not another viable option. Barber said the agreement would initially be for one year, so the district can continue to evaluate it. FIS also does not have its own garage to service buses.
"This puts us in a difficult position, being asked to spend more money than what our average expense has been, but we are in between a rock and a hard spot," said board Chair Jina Greathouse.
FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp said from his district's point of view, the part-time mechanic would alleviate some of the burden of time and personnel issues that the district has. As FCS' bus fleet grows, more manpower is needed to service them. Kopp said FCS has three mechanics and this proposed position would solely work on FIS buses. FCS has about 85 buses. He said the $24,000 funds about half of a position.
In addition to servicing FIS buses, FCS also does inspections, which must be done multiple times a year, Kopp said. Creating the part-time mechanic position could be more cost-effective for FIS in the long run because it would not have to maintain its own bus garage or negotiate another partnership with a different school district.
"We want to help our neighbor district," Kopp said.
Kopp said the contract hasn't been written but the FIS board's vote was the first step toward a contract. He said he will take the motion to the FCS board.
The FIS board voted unanimously to continue negotiations on the contract.
It also approved an memorandum of agreement of $25,000 with the Franklin County Health Department for a school nurse for the 2019-20 school year. The nurse is housed in Second Street School but provides some support for Frankfort High School. FIS has had similar agreements in the past and the price did not change from last year.
The board also approved a limited contract of employment for new SSS Principal Sam Sams. The contract only covers six days in June, before the next fiscal year begins July 1. She succeeds Dewey Hensley, who will retire Aug. 1.
The next FIS board meeting will be 6 p.m. June 24 at the district's central office.