By Mike Scott
Twenty-two times since the beginning of the school year.
That’s how many times CCR-1 school bus driver Curtis Mack has had other drivers fail to stop when he turns on the flashing lights and extends stop sign on his bus, according to CCR-1 Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht. Other bus drivers have the same problem.
And that 22 incidents doesn’t include the accident in December, when Mack’s bus was rear-ended on Hwy. 136 east of Kahoka, while stopped to let students off, with flashing lights on and stop sign extended.
“We got really lucky that nobody was seriously injured in that accident,” Kracht said.
According to Kracht, roughly half of drivers failing to stop are from out of state.
To address the issue, the district has purchased two stop arm cameras which will automatically activate when the stop arm is extended, at a cost of about $3500.
“We’re putting them on Curtis Mack’s and Rhonda Kirchner’s buses, because they stop on Hwy. 136. We don’t have any stops directly on Hwy. 27,” Kracht said. “We may add more later.”
If drivers fail to stop from either direction, the cameras will document the violation and the video will be turned over the law enforcement to be prosecuted.
Kracht also praised the response from local law enforcement and emergency services, as well as the district staff. He also reported that the district’s insurance was working with the other driver’s insurance to handle the medical claims for several students who sought treatment for minor injuries.
The board also heard a review of the district’s Student Behavioral Program, presented by Jessica Pitford and Nicki Logsdon.
The district has around 70 students with behavioral issues, which include not being in their seats, defiance to teachers, outbursts, and other distractions to escape work.
“Often, they would rather being the office that do any work,” Pitford said.
Some of these students spend most of their school time separated from other students. Though they can participate in elective classes such as band or art, few choose to.
“Most would be happy to eat their lunch in the classroom rather than in the commons, if we would let them,” said Pitford.
These students receive specialized instruction which rewards positive behaviors with more privileges.
“All the kids are assigned to levels and have specific goals. When they achieve their goals, the may earn extra privileges, such as free time or going to the restroom unaccompanied.
Much of the instruction is done online, to individualize it to meet the students’ needs.
And it seems to be working.
“Parents are happy with the program,” Pitford said.
“Some have jumped two grade levels,” added Logsdon.
“Even on their worst day, they are only disrupting themselves, not 16 or 17 other students,” Pitford added.
School board member Kari Bevans asked, “What is the goal. Are you just trying to graduate them, or will they be employable?”
Both Pitford and Logsdon agreed that many of the students will graduate and be able to go into a work environment.
Work on the security entrance has begun at Running Fox, although the contractor, Whiston Construction, is still waiting for the doors to arrive.
Running Fox Principal Katrina Nixon reported that she’s impressed with Whiston’s progress and how clean they keep the worksite.
In other business, the board:
-Approved installing a double door on the Running Fox gym, painting the Middle School principal’s office to match the planned new office space, and replace a set of double doors at the Middle School.
-Approved overnight the FFA and FCCLA clubs to their respective conventions.
-In closed session, the board hired Robbie Schutte as a bus mechanic.