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BoE weighs pay for mechanics who drive
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The Liberty County Board of Education met Tuesday for its monthly work session and addressed several topics, including fundraisers, use of school grounds and extra pay for transportation employees.
For more than half an hour, BoE members and district officials discussed the possibility of extra pay for transportation employees. Liberty County School System Director of Transportation Mickey Bayens led the exchange.
Board members were surprised to learn from Bayens that mechanics who occasionally pilot the buses to help the district’s transportation department are paid more than school bus drivers for the same work.
Mechanics work eight-hour days. However, if a mechanic is certified to drive a bus and help is needed, mechanics automatically are paid two hours of overtime for driving a bus.
However, if a bus driver needs to run an extra route, they are required to sign a form that states they will accept $10 per hour for extra time over their required four hours.
Given the volatile economy and local high unemployment rates, board member Marcia Anderson questioned why jobs aren’t opening up.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” said Anderson, who has driven school buses in the past. “But that, to me, is a slap in the face to the bus drivers.”
A majority of the bus drivers work four hours daily, Bayens said. He said the pay policy has been in place since he took over the position five years ago.  
When he started talking with mechanics and bus drivers about overtime, he said he realized he needed to discuss pay wages with the board.
“That’s when I said I needed to come up to you guys so you’re aware of what’s going on,” the transportation director said.
Board members agreed they had never voted on such measures.
The transportation system for bussing students to and from school covers about 115 regular stops, Bayens said. The original route — before cuts — covered 120 stops.
“We’re doing what we can to survive,” he said. Some of the buses are early 1990s models, which he said are checked by mechanics to ensure safety.
During its next meeting, the BoE will decide on regulations for how and when outside organizations and school clubs may use school grounds during weekend hours for fundraisers and other events.
Currently, school board policy requires organizations to submit a written summary of the event, including when and where it will be held. A $100 security deposit also is required to cover any damages to school property.
“We shouldn’t close our doors,” board member Verdell Jones said. “It is paid with tax dollars.”
The eight board members will decide whether four days a year for each organization is a fair share of property usage for events. For this school year, 33 requests have already been turned in and more are expected.
Most of the requests are from groups like FBLA, cheerleading squads and the high school prom committee, who ask to use the grounds for fundraising events.
On Tuesday, the BoE also reviewed the Ombudsman Educational Services report for Liberty County. The report showed the program served 389 students for the 2010 school year and, by the end of the year, increased academic performance in all areas.

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