STOP for school buses

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaYou’re on camera: Buses, like this one, that are used by the South Vermillion School Corporation are equipped with cameras that can record the license plates of drivers who try to drive around a stopped school bus.

New school buses purchased by the Vigo County School Corp. this year will have some added safety equipment — two additional cameras to help capture stop arm violations.

“We are now going to a four-camera system on our buses. We currently have a two camera system,” with the two existing cameras in the bus interior, said Rick Long, VCSC director of facility support and transportation, during Monday’s School Board meeting.

The two additional cameras, which come at an extra cost, will be placed on the front dash (facing forward) and another on the stop arm (facing backward).

The added cost will be less than $1,000 per bus, Long said in an interview, but he added, “How do you put a price on it?”

Stop arm violations “are becoming more and more in the news and more prominent. This is a way to document it so you can take those violators to court,” he said.

If the initiative is successful, in the future, existing buses could be retrofitted to add cameras, Long said.

The School Board approved the purchase of 17 school buses through the Central Indiana Educational Service Center cooperative purchasing group.

The contract went to Midwest International, the lowest bidder, for eleven 78-passenger conventional buses at $96,520 each and six 54-passenger special needs buses at $107,044 each.

The total contract is for $1.7 million. The new buses will arrive in July.

The district has about 196 school buses and replaces 1/12 of its bus fleet each year as part of its bus replacement plan, Long said.

In other matters, the school board took action to improve wifi capability within the district.

The board approved CDW-G as the vendor in a contract that involves purchase and installation of network access equipment, part of the district’s ongoing technology plan.

The cost is $843,188, but the district expects to get back 80 percent of the cost through the E-rate program, a federal program that provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

The project will improve the capacity and coverage of the wireless network to meet current and future needs, according to the VCSC.

Technology upgrades was listed as a high priority during recent community meetings and staff surveys, Rob Haworth, superintendent, said in an interview. Greater access to wifi is critical in today’s world, he said.

In other matters, Kayur Patel of Wellness for Life made a presentation asking the school board to consider adding services related to “musculoskeletal” care, which would include physical therapy.

Wellness for Life already operates the district’s health and wellness center, which has been in place for about nine years. It is located at 3250 Maple Ave.

Patel said musculoskeletal disease makes up 20 percent of all health care costs in the country. If his proposal is implemented, he guaranteed the district would save 25 percent in costs the first year, or about $375,000, “or I’ll make up the difference,” he said.

In 2018, the district spent about $1.5 million on musculoskeletal diseases, he said.

The board took no action but will consider the proposal at a future meeting. Board member Joni Wise asked Patel to consider the prevention aspect so that some of these injuries can be prevented.

In other matters, the board:

• It also awarded bids for roofing and related work to Associated Roofing Professionals for $1.2 million and Fort Wayne Roofing for $160,000. The contract total was $1.3 million. The roofing work involves several schools.

• Haworth said the Bond Steering Committee will conduct its first meeting March 7 to review proposals from architectural firms related to a long-term district facilities plan. The district received results of a request for qualifications Monday and about a dozen showed interest. The committee will review those qualifications and make recommendations to the School Board.

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

Sue Loughlin has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star for more than 30 years. She covers general news with a focus on education.