Construction updates, an equipment replacement plan, and an administrative report on the start of school highlighted the Sept. 7 meeting of the Pioneer Board of Education.
Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds Nicholas Titus shared a plan for replacing three pieces of equipment—a pickup/grounds truck, a box trailer for the marching band, and a multi-purpose tractor.
Mr. Titus said the band trailer has seen a lot of miles/wear. The grounds truck would be replaced with another Ford F-350 at a cost of around $45,000. Trade-in value of the current truck is $6,000.
Mr. Titus also outlined a longer term plan for equipment replacement, with particular attention to the district plow fleet, in which Pioneer would trade-in certain pieces before they age excessively and lose too much value.
Superintendent Benjamin Halsey reported that Parent-Student Orientation earlier in the day had gone very well. At the same time, the departments of Special Education and Human Resources held a day-long training for teacher aides and assistants.
He urged some perspective on the start of 2021-22. "When you think of where we were last year, we had a hybrid model, our sports teams got a late start, no after school activities, and a lot of uncertainty. This year, although we're not where we wanted to be, we at least have a full slate of school operations."
Mr. Halsey said that along with other steps of mitigation (including masking and social distancing for everyone at school), employees have been notified of a new state requirement to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. Proof of vaccination status is due to be collected by department heads by Friday, Sept. 10. Those who opt for testing would have to submit results by Friday of each week.
Mr. Halsey said Pioneer is like many local organizations and businesses in dealing with hiring challenges. He mentioned a couple of open teaching positions at the high school that will be covered by other staff while more teachers can be hired.
Similarly, First Student Transportation is also short of bus drivers, and they have worked with Pioneer in identifying ways to get students to and from school. Some routes have been extended, and Pioneer staff have also been deployed to drive bus in certain cases. "We're not expecting this to be a long-term issue," Mr. Halsey said.
Assistant Superintendent Nick Silvaroli said property tax collection has begun with the mailing of notices to district residents. A collection table has been set up in the foyer, and is available for in-person payments Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through the end of October.
Mr. Silvaroli said the external audit conducted by Lumsden & McCormick is being finalized, with a report on the financial information at the next board meeting on Sept. 21.
Mr. Silvaroli said a summer flurry of capital project activity focused largely on the high school, including the auditorium, roof, locker rooms, and foyer. Those areas remain under construction but the building is open and safe to occupy.
Work will continue this fall, much of it on second shift and dependent on availability of materials. The timeline calls for completion sometime next fall, Mr. Silvaroli added. He shared an architect's rendering of what the entrance of the high school might look like when the expanded foyer is complete.
Additionally, Delevan Elementary has new vinyl flooring in classrooms and carpeting in the library as a result of the ongoing capital project.
Agenda from 9/7