Lyle faces problems after bus drivers fired, resigned

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Though Lyle Public Schools won’t contract with Palmer Bus Services for its transportation needs, the district is facing serious transportation problems.

Three out of four Lyle bus drivers have quit or been fired over the past month or so, with substitute drivers driving the open routes. In addition, district staff and parents say Lyle bus drivers have pared down bus routes from four to three, with some parents audibly complaining over service during Lyle’s board meeting Monday night.

“My kids get picked up a half hour late as it is,” one mother said during the meeting.

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Board members decided to retain the district’s bus service on the advice of Lyle Superintendent Jim Dusso. Though Palmer offered to bus three routes for around $159,000 a year, the company would buy all of Lyle’s buses, which Dusso said would make it harder for Lyle to restart their transportation program. Lyle’s bus drivers would bus three routes for about $131,000 a year.

In addition, the board directed Dusso to purchase two buses, one new and one used, to replace several buses in need of severe rust repair. The district is also looking to buy two nine-seat transportation vans, with one new and one used, to replace several of the district’s vans which will be due soon. School vans are regulated by tighter restrictions than buses, with vans coming directly from the factory with certain safety features in store.

All vehicles would total about $225,000 over four years, which means the district would pay about $187,000 a year in transportation costs for the next four years.

The board also approved a possible business manager and a part-time physical education teacher Monday. The business manager will serve the SouthEastern Minnesota Education Consortium of Lyle, Grand Meadow and Glenville/Emmons Public Schools. Dusso told the board consortium officials found a job candidate for about $36,000 a year, about $24,000 of which Lyle pays for until Glenville/Emmons approves the position. The board voted 4-2, with members Dan King and Kent Golberg dissenting due to the extra costs. Lyle would bear and concern over adding an extra position. Former superintendent Jerry Reshetar managed Lyle’s budget in the past. Board members told Dusso when they hired him as superintendent that they would comply with consortium officials’ wishes to find a business manager as soon as possible, as Dusso did not have much experience dealing with district finances before becoming superintendent.

The part-time physical education teacher will help in a staff shift that would allow another P.E. teacher to become dean of students, in essence a guidance counselor who can help students apply for colleges and deal with disciplinary issues in the afternoon. Dusso said the candidate he has in mind is also a certified bus driver and offered to help transport students.