School buses

The Magnolia School District will buy 15 new buses to upgrade an aging fleet that carries about 1,800 students a day.

The Magnolia School District will upgrade much of its bus fleet with the purchases of 15 new vehicles.

School board members approved Monday a bid with Farmers Bank & Trust to finance the purchase at an interest rate of 2.75 percent. The new buses will cost $80,700 each for a total of $1,210,500.

Magnolia schools typically buy about two new buses annually.

Transportation Director Chris Hurley told the board last month that the current fleet includes two 1996 buses that are still on routes every day. Several buses bought in the mid 2000s no longer work.

Slightly more than half of Magnolia students, or about 1,800 children, ride on buses that are driven 2,600 miles each school day.

Also Monday, school board members were presented with unique artworks done by students as tokens of appreciation.

January was School Board Member Appreciation Month. Several East Side Elementary students designed artwork to be given to board members. Nameplates on the artwork were manufactured by the high school shop class.

In other board news:

-- With Magnolia freshmen moving to the new ninth-grade academy at Magnolia High School next fall, other grades will be moving as well.

Sixth graders will move to the junior high campus, which will also include Magnolia’s seventh and eighth grades and be renamed Magnolia Middle School.

Third grade students will move from East Side Elementary to Central Elementary.

The configuration changes were approved by the Magnolia board. They will now be submitted to the state Board of Education for final approval.

-- Magnolia High School principal Chris Carter requested new courses, one in agribusiness management and three in industrial technologies.

A storage facility will be repurposed for the industrial maintenance lab. Students who complete these three classes will receive eight college credit hours at SAU Tech and a certificate of proficiency in industrial science and technology.

This is a shift from the previously offered welding classes in conjunction with SAU Tech. The school will receive $100,000 from the state be used for equipment purchases.

-- The board approved the calendar for the 2020-21 school year. Students will have 178 instructional days. School will start on August 17. Thanksgiving break will be November 23-27. Christmas break will be December 21-January 1, followed by a teachers’ in-service day on January 4, 2021. Winter break will be February 12 and 15, 2021. These days can also be used as bad weather make-up days. Spring break will be March 22-26. The last day of school will be May 28, 2021.

-- Superintendent John Ward said he’s watching the number of students who are out sick. He said East Side and Magnolia Junior High have been hit hardest.

He reminded the board about the new district website and app that became available on January 31.

-- The next board meeting will be March 9.

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