Norway school land may be closed to hunting

NORWAY — The Norway-Vulcan Area Schools Board will consider prohibiting hunting on school land adjacent to Oak Crest Golf Course where a mountain bike trail will be built.

Although the issue was before the board Wednesday, members opted to postpone a decision to their October meeting when all board members should be present. Members Jenny DeDecker and Bill O’Brion were absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

The board last fall allowed locals working with the Dickinson County Bike Path Committee to develop the mountain bike trail through school-owned property west of the golf course so it could connect with an already-established trail in Marion Park.

Superintendent Lou Steigerwald said he recently became aware of hunting blinds, a feeder and cameras on the property. He expressed concern over possible conflicts between hunters and mountain bikers.

The board’s building and grounds committee earlier this month voted 2-1 to recommend prohibiting hunting as of Jan. 1, 2019, and to tag any hunting-related items with a notice to remove by the same date. O’Brion and Gerry Cieslak were in favor, while Dennis Lynch was opposed.

Board President Candy Brew wondered if any mountain bikers would be on the trail in November during hunting season. But teacher Jeanette Sword noted “fat tire” bikes can be used year-round, even in snow.

In other business, the board:

— Heard that Rico Meneghini will no longer teach drivers’ education after this fall, and has so far been unable to find a replacement. Getting certified is difficult, Meneghini pointed out, saying the only programs available are downstate.

Parents now will have to seek private vendors for drivers’ education services, Steigerwald said.

— Approved a contract with Choice Transportation for two bus routes at $2.75 per mile for the remainder of this school year and the next.

R & A Transportation had the contract, but pulled out the afternoon before school started, school staff said. So Choice Transportation provided busing services for the two routes in the interim, they said.

Steigerwald said he contacted legal counsel and was told the district didn’t have to re-bid the two routes and could go with Choice Transportation as long as the company kept to its price from the original bidding process.

The board directed Steigerwald to send a letter to R & A Transportation, asking to make the district whole for the extra cost in contracting with Choice Transportation. The estimated extra cost is $5,000, Steigerwald said.

— Heard from Steigerwald and Finance Director Vania Brown that actual student enrollment this year is 686, which is lower than the projected student enrollment of 705. The state uses a three-year blended average for aid purposes, Steigerwald explained, so the district will be paid for 702 students. Decreasing enrollment may have more of an effect on funding in future years, he added.

— Announced a “Meet the Candidates” forum at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the school auditorium. Candidates for school board, state representative and state senate seats will be in attendance.

— Recalled Sara Davy to the classroom aide position after laying her off at the regular August board meeting.

— Hired Jennifer Carter for a five-hour custodial position and Julie McDonald for a five-hour kitchen position.

— Approved updated handbooks for the elementary school, middle school, high school and district employees.

— Went into closed session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation.