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District 113 scores 4 used diesel school buses to save on fuel

VehiclesUniversity of Michigan

After starting the District 113 Board of Education meeting Monday with a moment of silence for student Rohan Malempati, who died Feb. 19 from illness, members approved the purchase of four used school buses, pushing aside a question of the wisdom of leasing instead.

Board President Marjie Sandlow said Rohan, 17, planned to study medicine at the University of Michigan and become a third-generation doctor in his family. He was active in Highland Park High School's Rotary Interact Club and was remembered as caring deeply about the welfare of others, she said.

The diesel 2010 and 2011 buses will be purchased from Midwest Transit Equipment, Kankakee, for a total of $195,220, which includes trading in four gasoline-powered buses at least 12 years old. Barry Bolek, assistant superintendent for finance, said the purchase is "one of those sweet spots where you had to be in the right place at the right time. They are low miles for diesels. We are really saving a lot of money (on fuel costs) for the diesel, and they are 'posi-traction,' so they are so much better for the snow."

Board member Debbie Hymen asked "the question I ask every year. Do we always look into the benefits of purchase versus leasing, because I know other districts have gone to leasing as cost-saving mechanisms and (to obtain) buses in better shape."

Yes, replied Bolek, "this (purchase of used vehicles, inspected on-site before purchase by the district) is better."

The board also approved the purchase of two Chevrolet Impalas for driver's education, and a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 pickup truck, for $39,600, which will be used for snow plowing, Bolek said.

In other matters, student representative Mac Levin reported a successful Facebook Save the Dance campaign to resurrect attendance at Deerfield High School's annual spring Turnabout dance. Barely 100 people attended last year, but the dance on Saturday drew about 550, spurred by free tickets for seniors, Levin said.

Faculty representative Paul Curtin said the Polar Plunge has raised over $13,000 for Special Olympics.

After a presentation on classroom practices and revised thinking on teacher evaluation by HPHS math teacher Kevin Higgins, Principal Brad Swanson said, "This is also a great example of teacher leadership because what (Higgins) is creating for us on (some) Wednesday mornings is that teacher-to-teacher conversation," which creates an environment of constructive evaluation. HPHS science teacher Brian Scane collaborated with Higgins on the evaluation project.

DHS Principal Audris Griffith lauded student volunteers on recent trip to Costa Rica, in which students in the Four Walls program helped build two homes for homeless people, starting with only a concrete slab laid down where a shack made from scrap materials, with a dirt floor, formerly stood.

"Not once did they complain about the heat (and humidity) or being tired," Griffith said. "The kids slept in bunks made by two-by-fours and the 'upscale' facilities were inside a former coffee factory."

triblocaltips@tribune.com

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