On Monday, the Neosho R-5 Board of Education approved buying six school buses to replace six aging units in the district's fleet.

On Monday, the Neosho R-5 Board of Education approved buying six school buses to replace six aging units in the district's fleet.

School board members approved the bid from Central Bus Sales, Fenton, Mo., for $545,520. The district will buy three 78-passenger Bluebird transit buses at $99,400 each, and three 71-passenger Bluebird conventional buses at $88,750. Central is allowing the district $19,200 in trade-in value on the used buses.

Also bidding on the buses was Allied Bus Sales of Nixa, which bid $90,619 for a conventional 77-passenger bus, and $89,957 for each conventional 71-passenger unit. Allied would have allowed a higher trade-in allowance — $23,100 — as four of the six units are Internationals, which Allied sells.

According to Jacque Faulker, transportation director for the district, the purchase will make the R-5 fleet an entirely Bluebird one, with the exception of two special needs buses. This is advantageous from the standpoint of bus maintenance, said Tim Crawley, assistant superintendent of business and finance for the district.

"Allied is a good company and we do have some of those buses, but it requires us to have specific tools to fix those buses as well as other tools for the Central States," he said. "As we get more and more to the Central States buses, it allows us to do more interchanging."
Faulkner told the board having an all-Bluebird fleet would ensure that the buses had the same engines and transmissions.

The Bluebird buses come with a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, while International offers a three-year warranty on their products, Faulkner said.

In other business, the board voted to follow Crawley's recommendation and keep the district's property tax levy at $2.75 per $100 assessed valuation, plus an additional 36-cents per $100 assessed valuation for debt service.
The tax rate will provide nearly $7.6 million to the district for operations, while the debt service levy will provide an additional $994,340. While the levies remain the same, the district will receive a bit more funding, as property assessments in the R-5 school district have risen from $265.866 million to $276.2 million.
The portion for district funding a taxpayer with a house assessed at $80,000 would pay in residential property tax is $473. Meanwhile, a taxpayer with a vehicle valued at $15,000 would pay $154 in personal property tax as his or her share in funding for the school district.

District officials said the $3.11 total levy is still below the state average of $3.43. Because of changes in valuation, some taxpayers could see higher tax bills next year. Tax rates in Newton and McDonald counties are reassessed in odd numbered years.

In other action, the board:

• Accepted resignations from Nelda Tobar, kindergarten teacher at Carver Elementary; Kimberly Claycomb, a parents as teachers educator and secretary; and Khristi Auch, a special ed paraprofessional at Neosho Middle School;

• Agreed to hire the following: Lucas Pryor, a special education teacher at Neosho Middle School; Ashley Siler, a physical education and health teacher at Neosho High School; James Hettinger, an industrial arts teacher at NHS; Tiffany Widener, secretary at NHS; Susan Armstrong, special education paraprofessional at Neosho Middle School; Gina Besser, Title I aide at Field Early Childhood Center; Michelle Wilson, security officer for the district; Barb Lake, Bright Futures coordinator; Matt Hixson, assistant soccer coach at NHS; Dayla Talley, special ed paraprofessional at South Elementary; Brandy Tillman, second grade teacher, Benton Elementary; Rachel Williams, Title I aide, Field Early Childhood Center; and Alissa Irvin, junior varsity cheerleading coach, NHS;

• Approved student / faculty handbooks;

• OK'd changes in the sick leave pool;

• Approved tuition rates for the upcoming school year at $6,650 for non-resident students, unchanged from last year;

• Approved master schedules for grades 7-12, and;

• Set class sizes midway between minimum standards set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and DESE's desirable standards.