In its first meeting of the new school year, the Unicoi County Board of Education listened as Unicoi County Schools Transportation Supervisor Tommy Clouse opened his program update by discussing the previous school year.
Clouse told the board at Thursday’s meeting that the county’s school buses ran approximately 275,000 miles on regular routes and trips in the previous year. While buses were involved in three “fender benders” last year, he said it had been 13 years since a county school bus had been involved in an accident with injuries.
“That’s a gigantic accomplishment,” he said. “The safest way that children go to school is in a bus.”
However, the school system has recently faced issues with some of its buses, Clouse said. He told the board two new buses the system received earlier in the summer did not meet inspection and had to be sent to Morristown for repairs. The inspector also said he would not inspect three extended utilized buses, which are used primarily for special activities, until the two new buses came back from being repaired, Clouse said.
“So instantly, he decided we were down five buses,” Clouse said.
Clouse commended Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown, whose management he said allowed the system to increase its number of surplus buses from two to eight. Some of this, he said, was also due to extended use. Under state guidelines, school systems are able to run buses for 12 years, but due to the current economic climate school systems can apply to allow buses to be used for up to 15 years.
The board members present unanimously approved a motion to request extended utilization of three buses with 12 years of service, which would allow three additional years of use on each. Brown said these buses would not be used until inspected.
In other business, the board:
— Approved the Unicoi County High School and Unicoi County Middle School fall sports schedules for 2011.
— Approved Unicoi County High School and Unicoi County Middle School sports budgets and inventories for 2011-12.
— Approved the cooperative agreement between Upper East Tennessee Human Development and the Unicoi County School System for the 2011-12 school year for the Head Start program.
— Approved the food service budget, Carl Perkins budget and Carl Perkins reserve for the 2011-12 school year.
— Approved the installation of an approximately 15-foot-tall film tower at Gentry Stadium.
— Approved a number of personnel items.