There are several changes, approved by the board, for the 2019-2020 school year.

During a special school board meeting the Chillicothe R-II School Board voted unanimously to change the transportation plan for preschool students for the 2019-202- school year.

Currently, bus routes take preschool students to and from school, whether they are enrolled in morning or afternoon preschool instruction time.

During discussion with the board, Dr. Zach McMains, assistant superintendent, said the bussing schedule, especially for those afternoon preschool students was encroaching on instruction time.

Noting the instruction time is vital for students and some forms of state funding, he proposed two solutions. The first being the direct cancelling all midday bus routes or cancelling midday bus transportation for anyone living outside the city limits.

The district spends about $32,000 a year in preschool transportation costs, by removing the midday routes it would essentially “erase” all pre-school related transportation costs, Dr. Roger Barnes, superintendent, said.

The board voted to keep midday routes, only in the city limits. Preschool students who live, in the city or along rural routes where a stop already exists will be able to ride the before school and after school routes, as usual. The midday preschool routes will only run in the city limits.

Board member Lindy Chapman pointed out that students who needed the midday route could be picked up or dropped off in the city limits with a daycare provider, babsyitter or family member by the school bus. Parents will simply need to fill out transportation forms with that information.

McMains also presented the board with a new policy regarding delinquent lunch payments. The new policy, which the board also approved unanimously to pass for the 2019-2020 school year, would change the way the district handles delinquent lunch accounts.

Barnes noted that any child whose account was deemed “behind” or “delinquent” but was later approved for Free and Reduced Lunches would have their accounts zeroed out. However, parents of students who are not enrolled in that program are being asked to bring their accounts to zero before the new school year starts, as a new policy will go into effect. Aug. 19, and will allow the district to contact the parents in a variety of ways about the delinquent account(s), up to an including filing a small claims case in an effort to receive the money owed. Barnes noted that every effort will be made to work with parents in regards to payment plans.

“We are not and will not be one of those districts that does not allow a child to eat when they are in our schools,’ he stressed. “I do not view this as an issue with a student but as an issue between the parents and the school.”

Barnes said the board plans to make a decision about the future of Central School at the May 21 board meeting. The school has been vacant since the end of last school year. The Hamilton Group out of Springfield has expressed interest in purchasing the school and turning it into market-rate apartments, much like it did with the old high school in Trenton. Steve Franke said it was important to note that in that instance the group worked hard, as they will here, to maintain the historical importance of the school. He also said plans include turning the school playground into a neighborhood park, which would be maintained by the apartment complex but open and available to citizens of the area.

At the next board meeting on May 21, the board will also take steps to determine what to do with three vacant homes near Grand River Technical School (GRTS). The homes, located at 1303, 1315 and 1317 Bryan Street could be demolished and the lots then used for additional parking for GRTS.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., before the May 21 board meeting, a meet and greet has been planned. The community is invited and encouraged to meet Dan Wiebers and his family, along with new school board members Bill Hayen, Brice Walker and Clint Williams. Wiebers will be the new superintendent of Chillicothe R-II Schools starting July 1. The meet and greet will be held at the district office from 5:30-6:30 p.m.