Mike Tarter

Mike Tarter

The Somerset Independent Board of Education officially welcomed its newest board member Thursday night with the swearing in of Mike Tarter.

Tarter is taking over the seat left vacant due to the death of Dr. Michael Hail, who passed away August 6.

Tarter has worked in the radio business more than 40 years and is the long-serving President/CEO of Forcht Broadcasting.

Among the board’s business at Thursday’s meeting was to approve the purchase of a 2021 Thomas-built school bus.

According to transportation director Tim Ham, the bus would be used to replace an older bus.

Ham explained that during the process of securing this bus, lead bus driver Patrick Hunley found out that the school was eligible to receive money due to one of the older buses qualifying for a Volkswagen settlement payout. The district will receive $56,000 for having to dispose of the bus.

It was part of a $20.3 million settlement awarded to Kentucky levied against Volkswagen for falsifying diesel emissions data on engines that were supposed to meet specific guidelines under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

Ham said the district could go ahead and buy a new bus using financing through the Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association (KISTA), then when they receive the money from Volkswagen next May or June they can apply that money to reduce the amount of the loan.

The new bus will be a 78-passenger vehicle with carriage storage so that the bus can be used to transport groups like sporting teams and the marching band to events.

Superintendent Kyle Lively said the district would have needed to surplus one bus anyway, it just so happened that the Volkswagen bus needed to be removed from use anyway.

Ham said the old bus cannot be resold. It must be scrapped.

Ham also updated the board on how bus operation has been going during the reopening of in-person instruction at the schools.

“Our drivers have really bought in,” Ham said. “They’re wiping down with disinfectant after every trip per the state guidelines, and they’ve not complained, they’ve not fussed. Mr. Hunley sprays them every Friday evening with the fogger. They’ve really stepped up.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board approved several non-resident student contracts and reciprocal student contracts, for students who either live in the districts for Clinton County, Laurel County, McCreary County, Rockcastle County, Russell County, Wayne County or in the Science Hill Independent district and wish to attend Somerset Schools, or Somerset students who wish to attend in Russell and Wayne counties.

As in previous years, Somerset approved two versions of the non-resident contract with Pulaski County School District, one allowing an any-and-all exchange between the schools, and one in which allows for a limited number of students to be exchanged from one district to another.

Traditionally, Pulaski County’s board only approves the contract for a limited number of students.

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