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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Board continues talks on purchasing vehicles

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dan Schroeder
The Clay Community School Board of Trustees met for a regular session meeting Thursday.

One of the topics on the agenda was the continued exploration by the board for the purchase of corporation-owned vehicles.

According to Supt. Dan Schroeder, there is a mileage claim form that is to be filled out for individuals seeking reimbursement. This would include the name, date, the location and the reason for the travel. It also requires identifying the starting mileage, ending mileage and the actual mileage driven.

"The board asked for a cost study of three vehicles," Schroeder said. "I guess what the board would like to consider is if we should continue paying the rate or buy vehicles. Do keep in mind that everyone else who does not use these vehicles would still be reimbursed such as teachers, which is currently how it is done."

Business Manager Mike Fowler confirmed that the insurance carrier would be the same for these vehicles like all the others.

"Any employee in the school corporation would be insured to drive it," Fowler said.

Concerns were raised regarding the policies and procedures that would be in place with the vehicles.

"This has nothing to do with the purchase of the vehicle," Schroeder said. "But it does have to do with the individuals operating it."

One example given was where would employees fill the gas tank, either at a local gas station or at the Transportation Department.

"Sometimes people don't understand," he said. "They see somebody out for lunch, at the hardware store buying a part or driving the roads for snow they might think that they are being used for their own personal use. If we do buy these, then we will have to have a policy."

The board agreed with Schroeder that if the vehicles were bought then a policy would have to be in place.

Amy Adams
"I think if we adopt this policy, then people will come to understand that," board member Amy Adams said. "My personal opinion would be that the Transportation Director and Building and Grounds Director, would take these home because they live in the community and their jobs do require that they go out at night."

One example given by Adams was if there is an alarm in Clay City, then the corporation does not want anyone wasting time driving to the area where the vehicle is then driving to the alarm.

"I do think the times when (Schroeder) needs to go to Indianapolis the next morning and needs to report there for meetings, because he does live out of the county, instead of him coming back into the county to get the vehicle, then he should take it home with him to save time," she said.

As the discussion continued the topic of buying in the county or going out to look for the best deals was presented to the board.

"The report that (Fowler) prepared was based on parameters that we set," Adams said. "I used that and found one example, there are multiple dealers out there and we may be able to find something else."

Another board member requested everyone keep in mind it is the county that supports the students when they are out begging for money to fund their extra curricular activities.

"I know how many things we sell to keep the kids involved," board member Dottie King said. "If we can support the county, then I think it is important because the county supports us."

Board president Rob Miller agreed with King assessment.

"We are setting an example for people that are looking at buying vehicles that live here in the county," Miller said. "I would personally like to see it work with someone here in the county."

The next meeting of the Clay Community School Board of Trustees is Monday, at 6:30 p.m., in the media center at North Clay Middle School. The board will be voting on the 2011 budget, capital projects plan, school bus replacement plan and levy neutrality.

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The purchase price of the vehicles figures that came in from within the county were higher than figures from outside the county. The base price for a vehicle from the factory to the dealer is the same, but the dealer controls his mark-up to a certain extent. If a dealer is willing to give us a significantly lower price, that is the one that you go with. However, if a dealer from outside the county gives us a lower price, we should check with our local dealer to see if he would match it as suggested by Tina Hefner. If we can keep the money local, great, but if we can only keep the money local by paying to do so it just spends more money than it should.

One question that I have is that of what positions are costing the most as far as transportation reimbursement goes. While buying a vehicle would pay for itself in the long run as the corporation would get resale value at the end of use and the expense might be less than the reimbursement cost, it would behoove us to take a look at the reimbursement request history by position to figure out if buying vehicles is actually cost effective. If one position is costing 10% of the total, okay, perhaps we save money buying a vehicle to support that position. However, if there are nine different positions who are being reimbursed approximately the same amount every month, buying three vehicles is not going to support nine people who have to be in different places at different times very well. The bad thing is that, while costs have been reported, I don't think the time of use data is available. It's going to be hard to drive a vehicle that has been divided three ways.

On the vehicular use policy, I can see one vehicle being taken home on a daily basis by the Buildings and Grounds Director, provided that the job description for that position specifies a response "on call". In the case of the Transportation Director who has to check road conditions before the buses run, why would there be a need to put mileage on the vehicle when inclement weather is not forecast?

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Sep 10, 2010, at 11:23 PM

The positions of the people are irrelevant in this discussion. If the teachers or other staff members go somewhere for additional training or informational meetings, then are they not reimbursed for their mileage? The two most important ones to have vehicles would be the building and ground director, as well as, the transportation director. In the case of the transportation director, I would be pretty confident that he would not check road conditions if the inclement weather wasn't forecast. In terms of the superintendent, I would think that he wouldn't need a vehicle. From my understanding he doesn't live in the community anyway. The extra vehicle could be used for him to go to a meeting out of town.

-- Posted by Ron Archer on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 5:58 AM


You've hit the nail on the head. In addition to maintenance staff, there are teachers who make DAILY trips between multiple schools from Clay City up to Northview for one example. They don't have a vehicle given to them for use on these daily trips. The commute TIME isn't even taken under consideration and called their "prep" period.

Let Dr S declare his mileage for reimbursement like many other state employees do at the going rate. Having a vehicle at his disposal is ridiculous and his choice of where to live is just that; his choice. Board members just may be having the wool pulled over their eyes with this one. Another top heavy administrative decision that potentially takes resources away from the class room if you ask me.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 8:16 AM

Jenny, at the IRS rate for mileage reimbursement, the corporation would draw less money from the General Fund by paying a loan payment for the vehicles, insurance, and maintenance than paying for reimbursement if the assumption that the board member who brought this idea up holds true. Also, if the corporation buys the vehicle, part of the cost can be recouped at resale or trade-in, vice the employee reaping a windfall when they liquidate an asset that was basically funded by the corporation.

The idea is to save money in the General Fund by investing in an asset instead of handing out money.

However, we could buy thirty or forty small fuel efficient vehicles for the use of school personnel and have them draw a corporate vehicle at the beginning of the day so that we don't have to pay transport cost at the IRS rate from movement, just as the Armed Services do, but we don't have the DoD budget to play with. Even with the purchase of vehicles, we are still going to be paying mileage reimbursement to some, but we may save money from the highest users by furnishing a vehicle. The optimum point of diminishing return still has not been determined.

Looking at the corporate staff, it needs to be determined what positions are logging the most mileage reimbursement. Also, there is a scheduling issue as these vehicles are to be used to the corporation's advantage, not the individual's. If one if the service technicians needs to go to Terre Haute to pick up parts, then to every school to do a five minute critical install, he is going to have more mileage that day than the Superintendant would driving to and from Indianapolis for a meeting.

On that same note, electriceye, if inclement weather is not predicted, for the Transportation Director to take a corporate vehicle home is just paying for his transportation to and from his residence at corporate expense. It is the same as is the case if any other employee used a corporate vehicle when they should be using their personal vehicle. There is no call for any employee to use a corporate vehicle in any situation for which they could not claim mileage reimbursement.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 10:38 AM

Thank our lucky stars Leo did not get elected. That would be another era of Dr Forest Buell, the most negative man I have ever met.

Overall our school board is doing a good job. I agree there is occasionally some pork spending. However the vast majority of that pork spending has been on buildings. WHERE OUR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL. Every resident of this county is welcome to attend school board meetings and have input to the decisions made for our school corporation. (even though there is a pretty thick layer of fertilizer to dig thru to voice an opinion it can be done) There are very few, maybe 6 or 8, community members at any school board meetings. If any parents, taxpayers, business people, or anyone else in this county are dissatisfied with what is going on with the schools they need to come out let the board know. All we ever hear from are the nay sayers who cast a bad light on every decision the school board makes.

Over the years the board has made some decisions that were just out and out dumb. They have also made many many decisions that were well thought out and well researched. Decisions that took us from the dank old buildings that all of us life time citizens in this county attended high school in to the nice buildings our kids are attending today. When I attend my sons sporting events at other schools I make it a point to take a walk inside the schools and, weather permitting, around the outside of the buildings. In my opinion our schools facilities are on par with the rest of the schools in the state.

Along with the buildings there have been decisions that affected the education our kids get in the class room. Two of my three kids have graduated and my youngest is a sophomore at Northview. Both of my older boys were well prepared for college the day they received their diploma. Their teachers and counselors made that possible. When I graduated from BHS that was not the case. After a stint in the Air Force I attended college and did ok. However I saw students that graduated from other school systems that were much more educationally prepared than myself. Our kids are receiving a much better education than was offered in the not so far past. Our school corporation board is doing as good a job of directing and appropriating funds as any in the state.

-- Posted by jddriver4960 on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 11:39 AM

jddriver - have you ever thought that the only time that you see or hear something from me is when I see a possible problem or perhaps another option that needs to be considered because it may be even more beneficial?

I don't spend a lot of time researching the things that "ain't broke" or things that cannot be changed at this point in time. I don't have the lifespan to do that. I don't often lead the "cheering section" of what we are doing well, others are more adept and well practiced at doing that so I don't often add my spark to that fire. On occasion, such as the Pepsi Grant, I'll add my "Well Done!", but I am constantly trying, in my own small way, to improve education. This is what every concerned citizen involved is doing, from the school board members down to me, period.

I agree with roughly 98% of what I see happening in our school corporation, I'll just keep working on the rest.

As for decisions that had a negative impact but were approved by the majority, I'll point you at the 3/5 compromise written into the US Constitution and let you decide if the aftermath of a decision is worth the price of taking the easy road of not making a firm decision instead of compromising. I'd also like to point you at a fairy tale that contains a certain wisdom, that being, "just because the majority says that there is nothing is wrong does not contradict the truth." The fairy tale I have in mind is "The Emperor's New Clothes."

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 1:19 PM

jddriver4960, precisely the reason Leo L. Southworth didn't get elected. But he hasn't figured that out yet.............and probably never will.

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 2:26 PM

Leo, my rant isn't all about you. Slip back into your "lair" and relax. The election is long over.

-- Posted by jddriver4960 on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 3:12 PM

So does anyone know what the teachers get paid to travel from one school to another on daily basis? If it's the going rate, maybe we need cars for them too in order to save money...If they DON'T get that rate, why then does another employee at a higher salary do?

To those who don't like Leo's role as devil's advocate, it's up to all of us to raise these questions to make sure that a detail doesn't get overlooked. It's been proven more than once that the more people involved in a decision , the better the decision. Doesn't matter if one is on the board or not. Seems that some would rather just make believe that all the board members are superhuman and could never make an error just because they were the most popular or well known on the day of the vote....If so just stick your own heads back in the sand as your comments aren't suggestions of maybe a different way to think about doing something but just personal attacks on an individual....Real "nice" people you are. You seem to think that Leo is saying that the board isn't doing its job which is totally not the case. He raises good questions so all aspects are looked into. Comparing him with Dr Buell, who also plays devil's advocate as he feels in his gut that there has to be a better way to do thing is fine but the difference in the two gentlemen is that Leo's critiques come with viable alternatives to at least consider. Dr Buell hasn't brought alternative options to the table in quite a while for whatever reason.

While board members get underpaid for their efforts, Leo AND Dr Buell do both do this for pure betterment of our community. to hang in there and still contribute AFTER voters rejected you shows a passion for education and tenacity to withstand a hostile environment to make better something you believe in.

Sometimes I think some of you readers would let a fox alone in a hen house if he were related to someone they knew in Clay County as it wouldn't be "nice" to say that maybe there should be another with a shot gun full of rock salt go along in there with him to make sure the hens were taken care of properly. Yep the salty suggestions sting the status quo at times but sometimes it's what's needed when all are being to "nice" to let things go on as they have for years. Education is NOT what it used to be and we are in competition with people from around the world for jobs. If we don't keep up with the times and become more competitive, more and more of our grads will be underprepared. It takes a village. Now you have my rant.

Have a good Day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Sep 11, 2010, at 5:28 PM

Jenny - The way I understand it is that mileage is paid at the rate specified by the IRS and that that is the way it is specified in the CTA contract.

As of 01/01/2010 the rate for business mileage is $.50 per mile.

As I said before, we need to crunch the numbers a bit more. If corporate vehicles save us money, fine, but, as you say, we might be better off to buy more than originally planned if that will save us more money.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 12:54 AM

Maybe responders should check the actual rate for mileage reimbursement of school employees other than the superintendent. The IRS rate is not being paid to other employees. They have simply accepted the lesser rate as part of doing their job. I have not heard any of them asking for a vehicle.

-- Posted by CCS PATRON on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 9:26 AM

CCS patron:

I will

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 9:34 AM

CCS PATRON: Mileage paid to teachers, from what I got from the information at the meeting and not having the document in hand, is covered by the union contract.

Another point I would like for everybody to understand is that the investigation of the option to purchase vehicles DID NOT originate with any employee. From arguments presented so far in open debate, I am inclined to believe that, as a group, the employees are not in favor of buying corporate vehicles.

I also know that there are many employees that do not document every mile they put on their vehicles for the benefit of the corporation and the students. It would be a waste of time, for little monetary return, to do so and even if a corporate vehicle was available would they really want to return to their point of origin to change vehicles at the end of the day?

The main point of looking at this option is to determine if the corporation can save money by adopting it, not to provide every employee a vehicle for every movement. We have no need of a motor pool with many vehicles, just a few vehicles as an investment so that corporate money benefits the corporation instead of employees above and beyond their just and negotiated compensation. At a rate of $.50 a mile, the reimbursement factor would buy a $30,000 vehicle in 60,000 business miles, leaving the employee to pay only for upkeep and fuel while reaping a monetary reward at trade-in or sale. This probably would happen once in many of our employees' careers, but could be occurring more frequently in some positions. The data is still being looked at to determine what the facts are.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, Sep 12, 2010, at 10:27 AM

The whole reason this was brought up was to stop the school corp. from paying out mileage comp, but actually save money. Good idea, who would have thought it would generate so much negativity.

-- Posted by reddevil on Mon, Sep 13, 2010, at 10:26 PM

Taking into considering the dollars the corporation has spent on new high speed fiber optics networks between schools, the investment in distance learning and video equipment for teleconferencing why couldn't this technology be leveraged to lessen the need for travel between schools. It would also reduce the possiblity of accidents that could occur during travel especially in the winter months. Just thinking out loud.

-- Posted by Knights01 on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 1:30 PM

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