Tribune-Star file/Joseph C. Garza

Obey the sign: A prosecutor has discretion in filing charges, but the new law does allow a prosecutor to charge a person with a class A misdemeanor for recklessly passing a school bus with its stop arm extended. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The results are in, and an audit of Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation shows the system operates its routes efficiently, with little room for cost-effective improvements.

The report by First Transportation Solutions of Cincinnati does recommend that the combined facilities and transportation department become two separate departments, with separate directors. Currently, Richard Long is director of facility support and transportation, while Greg Gauer is assistant director of facility support and transportation.

Representatives made a short presentation to the School Board during a work session Monday.

VCSC has a total of 141 routes, 113 large bus routes and 28 small bus routes. The number of big bus routes was cut by six in 2017-18 and by one prior to this school year, according to the report. The district covers 267 square miles.

According to a routing analysis, “The geographic diversity of the county poses problems for efficiency as the transportation system is comprised of city-based runs and rural runs. City runs are short and reach capacity quickly. Rural runs operate throughout the district covering long distances, while well below capacity.”

Joe Eversole, First Transportation consultant, told district officials, “Given the challenges geographically you guys have and the uniqueness of your district, your team is doing a great job.”

Ben Schandle, First Transportation business development manager, said that when a district has more than 75 bus routes, industry practice suggests a separation of facilities and transportation.

The report suggested Long be director of facilities and Gauer be director of transportation; separating departments would allow each director to focus on that one department.

VCSC facilities include 31 buildings and 2.9 million square feet, and a future facility referendum would increase those responsibilities and demand more time, the report suggested.

Superintendent Rob Haworth said he supports separate departments and directors, given the responsibilities of each, but emphasized, “I’m not making that recommendation right now.”

In practice, facilities and transportation already do operate that way, with Gauer primarily responsible for transportation and Long over facilities.

In summary, Haworth said that sometimes, audits lead to greater financial savings, and sometimes “audits tell you, you are doing a great job. I believe our audit has told us we’re doing a great job.”

The cost of the study was $30,800, which included a detailed analysis of routes, school bell schedules and bus stops.  

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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