School board puts its staff in tight spot

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2007

The Franklin School Board let down its employees last week when it took no vote on allowing school bus drivers to drive their buses home.

At last month’s board meeting, the board was told by its superintendent and its transportation supervisor that some bus drivers were using city-owned buses for personal use after normal delivery hours.

While the additional cost of running school buses is relatively minor compared to the system’s $50 million annual budget, the practice that allows some employees to have perks while others do not is simply unfair and should not be allowed to continue.

Apparently the school system’s policy was &uot;for varying reasons&uot; eroded &uot;over the years,&uot; Superitendent William Pruett told the board last month. Some drivers even use the buses during the school day as their personal vehicle.

It was Pruett’s intent to have the board vote to support the move to enforce the currrent &uot;administrative regulation.&uot;

In short, Pruett said, correctly and accurately, that it wasn’t fair for some drivers to use the city’s buses while others did not.

The board could have resolved the issue with a vote to determine a policy; instead, it left the matter up to school officials to resolve.

When it came time to vote, however, the board learned that a similar practice was in use with four district-owned cars. Some employees were driving them to and from home while other employees were unable to enjoy the same benefit.

Pruett was correct to note that the irregularities could be grounds for an employee to file a grievance.

By not voting on the matter last week, the board left open the window for complaints that some employees get that privilege when others do not.The board could have done the city’s taxpayers and themselves a favor by voting to fully enforce the current policy.

By deferring, it opens itself to a possible grievance or lawsuit that could have been avoided.