Stop-Arm Violations Near 60 For WCS In One Month

Pictured is some of the outside construction at Warsaw Community High School. Construction started Sept. 6. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union

There have been 58 stop-arm violations with Warsaw Community Schools buses between the start of the 2022-23 school year and Tuesday.

Director of Transportation Mark Fick showed the Warsaw School Board Tuesday a video of an incident Friday on CR 100 headed south toward Harrison Elementary School where a bus stopped and the stop-arm was extended. The video then shows a car go around the bus, cross the center line and go around the bus after the stop-arm had been extended. Tuesday, there was an incident with the same car when the bus was headed north on CR 100.

Fick said he has contacted police. Board Vice President Randy Polston asked if they got a license plate. Fick said no and the department tried everything.

Fick also told the Board the school corporation did a bus stop assessment and, as of Tuesday, 75% of the bus pickups are curbside. There are no pickups streetside on any major county road.

When Fick started as director of transportation about five years ago, there were 58 bus routes. As of Tuesday, there are 33 bus routes. The school corporation transports about 4,300 students daily.

Board member Elle Turley said it was a big accomplishment to do what the department is doing on limited resources.

Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said Fick is “a doer” and was the reason the transportation department was working so efficiently. However, that meant the school corporation had to cut out auxiliary routes.

Fick said he couldn’t be prouder with what the transportation department is doing.

He also said the school corporation is still short bus drivers. Part of the problem is the state of Indiana changed the regulations in order to get a CDL license. He said WCS trains the bus drivers, then the drivers have to go through a three-day course and have to wait to get a scheduled assessment date, so instead of looking at 45 days, the transportation department is looking at 70 or 80 days to have bus drivers be able to start driving routes.

He said the department trains the new hires to where once they take the test for their CDL license, they can immediately start driving routes.

Board member Mike Coon asked if the new regulations are scaring people off from applying. Fick said yes.

At the end of the meeting, Director of Maintenance Jim LeMasters said construction was started at the high school on Sept. 6.

During construction, temporary walls are being put up as permanent walls are being taken down. So far, construction has gone well, he said. Football players have moved 200 boxes of books for the high school and basketball players helped move furniture. Construction workers are working very fast, he said.

He said he thought there might have been some issue with parent pickup since “we had to do some digging.” There were no issues.

He also said construction is ahead of schedule.

The construction project at the high school includes creating a distinct main entrance to the high school, consolidating student services administration to one area of the school, updating corridor space, updating the media center, increasing the size of the school’s health clinic; making improvements to STEM, special education and art spaces; and creating more parking spaces and a new drop-off lane.

Also, the Board reviewed the 2023 proposed budget. It totals $96,161,258. The education fund is $50,700,000. The operations fund is $25,540,000. The debt service fund is $15,340,258. The  referendum fund is $2,881,000. The rainy day fund is $1,700,000.

In other business, Hoffert said the school corporation received a $100,000 Secured School Safety Grant through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The corporation received the maximum the grant allowed.