The Badger School advertised for a full-time, 260-day per year transportation director in late August. From this job ad, the district received four applicants. At the Badger School Board’s September 9 meeting, Badger Superintendent-Principal Kevin Ricke explained how he was preparing scripts of questions for the upcoming interviews of these candidates and suggested interviewing these candidates by early next week.
Board member Jeramy Swenson then brought up another option— one not involving the four potential candidates— that led to some discussion amongst board members.
“I was wondering if we hired somebody part-time if we would save money,” Swenson said.
Swenson said he spoke with Tim Berger, a former Badger transportation director, and he said he would take the position, but on a part-time basis for the rest of the school year at minimum. He is not one of the four current candidates.
If the district went this part-time route, Swenson said it would then have to hire a full-time bus driver to do a route, but wondered if the district would still save money in the long-term by doing this.
In this part-time role, Berger would do the scheduling and mechanic side of the job, Swenson explained, adding how he could work a four to five-hour type of day. If any bus issues occurred he would be available in the mornings and in the afternoons except when he isn’t driving shuttle bus between Badger and Greenbush.
Several board members voiced some disagreement with this idea.
“I don’t particularly like the idea that we advertise for a full-time position and then we go ahead and hire a part-time,” board member Curt Hauger said. “That I don’t like. Then it should have been advertised as a full-time… or possibly part-time position, because really if we hire Tim, we don’t have an advertisement out there that covers that.”
Considering the district’s deficit, Swenson responded, “Right, I’m just looking at saving money.”
Hauger understood and agreed with Swenson.
Then, Swenson added how technically just because the district does interviews, doesn’t mean it has to hire anyone. Ricke confirmed this, adding how reference and background checks have to be done.
Board member Carol Rhen agreed with Hauger.
“It’s important, if that’s what we’re looking at and then that’s what we advertised for that we should, at this point, look at (the full-time position),” Rhen said.
Berger submitted his resignation as the Badger transportation director and the board approved it back at its October 9, 2017 meeting after 34 plus years of service. He continues to drive the after school shuttle bus and sub bus drives as needed. To replace Berger as the transportation director, the district hired Luke Nelson at this October 9, 2017 meeting. He has served in this role since then. The board still has to accept Nelson’s resignation and approve replacing the position.
Three of the four full-time transportation director candidates have bus driver licenses and two have director experience at other districts. Ricke added how all four of these candidates can do the mechanical side of the job.
He said a shared time position could be explored, but later added, “As far as on the student end and on a scheduling end, you do want one primary person that makes the assignments or schedules the routes,” Ricke said. “… I mean that I don’t think is a true 50/50 (job). I believe that the person that has to set the mileage for the routes or distances and making the assignments and making the calls for subs and stuff like that that’s a bigger piece of the responsibility.”
Board member Jim Christianson said the committee in charge of hiring this position could look into this part-time idea, work through it, and return to the board and see what would work, while taking into account the district’s candidates. Ricke agreed, later mentioning how the district could do some cost modeling to examine the cost savings of going the part-time route.
Ricke said he was glad the district received candidates. The district is still accepting applications, but based on the applications received so far, the committee in charge of this hire anticipates scheduling three interviews, possibly more, when all application materials arrive.
To see the complete Badger School Board story, read the September 11 issue of The Tribune in print or online.