BETHEL TWP. — On Monday, the Bethel Local Schools Board of Education heard updates on the search for a new superintendent and on the district’s transportation department.
The district hired K-12 Business Consulting to help conduct the search for Superintendent Ginny Potter’s replacement. Last fall, Potter announced her intention to retire at the end of this school year.
Debbie Campbell and Karel Oxley of K-12 Business Consulting shared some of the results of a survey that will help the consultants develop a search profile for superintendent candidates.
Oxley said that participants, who included district staff, students, parents and community members, agreed that one of Bethel’s strengths is that it is the “heart of the community.”
Campbell said the survey participants said that the district needs a “visionary” who can help develop a long-term plan for the district’s future.
The results of the survey will be used in the hiring process, which is expected to be completed this spring.
The board also heard from Transportation Director Gayle Rhoades about the district’s current busing needs.
According to Rhoades, the months of November and December were a “horrid time.” The department lost six drivers in those two months, and has lost eight drivers total in recent months. She noted that many districts are facing the same issue.
“One of the reasons we have a hard time is that there’s an outlay financially for people to be trained,” Rhoades said. Drivers must have at least 12 hours of training, but usually undergo about 25 hours, she added.
High School Principal Barrett Swope, who is licensed to drive a bus, has been filling in as needed.
In addition to dwindling numbers of bus drivers, the district is faced with a growing student population. Because there are now about 100 more students riding the bus than there were at the end of last school year, Rhoades said the department has had to double up on some routes, including four at the elementary school level.
“We have had such growth,” she said.
Rhoades said that the district has paid off four buses that were purchased within the last few years. Of the 19 buses the district currently has, the newest is a 2017 model and the three oldest are from 1998. The district is replacing one of the 1998 buses, a handicapped bus.
Rhoades also said that bus mechanics are hard to find, but the department is now working with an area man who also works with Miami East Schools. She said she is pleased with his work and hopes to keep him as a contractor for the next school year.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org