Ashland City Schools' board of education met on Aug. 28, 2023. Credit: Mariah Thomas

ASHLAND — Ashland City Schools’ board of education received updates on transportation and new technology implementation at its meeting Monday night.

Transportation challenges

At the district’s August board meeting, Supt. Steve Paramore told board members Ashland City Schools had enough bus drivers to fill all its routes, including one substitute. That situation has since changed, with most county districts struggling to fill all their routes amid a national bus driver shortage. 

Paramore, along with transportation director Doug Shipper and director of professional development for tech Ben Spieldenner, have stepped up to help fill in bus routes, according to previous Ashland Source reporting. 

The board unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees on Monday. Paramore said the memorandum would raise the pay for bus drivers in training, provide incentives for drivers to remain employed with the district and up drivers’ hours to five hours per day instead of 4.3.  

Paramore also addressed social media comments about buses arriving late. 

“I don’t live on social media, but I will tell you that our drivers read that, our community reads that,” Paramore said. “But at no time will we stop providing the best possible service we can to get your kids home safely.”

Brandon Wells, a board member, said putting negative comments on social media could cause frustrations among current drivers. 

“We don’t want to lose any of those people that are really working their tails off to get our kids safely to and from school,” Wells said. “We just don’t want to put them in a situation where they’re feeling heat that they shouldn’t feel, so I think that’s the underlying premise behind what Mr. Paramore is saying.”

Paramore said the district has added students to different routes. He acknowledged doing so could cause confusion and make students late.

“We would much rather get them home a little bit later than to get them home in an unsafe manner,” Paramore said. 

He encouraged parents to contact administrators or supervisors with concerns before taking to social media. Paramore said the district has two routes vacant for drivers to fill. Information to apply for those positions can be found on the district’s website.

Final Forms update

Ben Spieldenner, the district’s director of professional development for tech, also highlighted that the district has implemented Final Forms. 

According to previous Ashland Source reporting, that platform aims to streamline external forms, like emergency medical forms, by making them electronic. It also means parents won’t have to fill out those forms every year — only when things change. 

Parents and guardians received emails Nov. 20 to set up their accounts on the online portal. 

Spieldenner thanked the district’s secretaries. They interface most with Final Forms and have helped the district iron out challenges with the new technology. 

“Our secretaries at all the buildings have just been such an incredible resource, and they are some of the most conscientious people I have ever met,” Spieldenner said. 

“They are very detail-oriented, they are very passionate about their jobs, they are very passionate about making sure that things are accurate and things are safe, and all those kinds of things, so they have been such an incredible resource as well.” 

Spieldenner said around 60 parents had entered information on the first day the platform opened.

What’s coming up next?

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Little Theater at Ashland High School. It will be the board’s last meeting in 2023. 

Paramore said the board will honor outgoing members Zack Truax and Brandon Wells at the December board meeting.

The Education section is brought to you by Ashland Family YMCA.

This independent, local reporting provided by our Report for America Corps members is brought to you in part by the generous support of the Ashland County Community Foundation.

Ashland Source's Report for America corps member. She covers education and workforce development, among other things, for Ashland Source. Thomas comes to Ashland Source from Montana, where she graduated...