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FWCS buys buses with seat belts

July 24, 2018

A new expectation is coming to students in Fort Wayne Community Schools: buckle up.

The school district, which transports more than 21,000 students, is buying buses equipped with seat belts.

It isn’t the only one to invest in the safety equipment. In recent months, East Allen, Northwest Allen and Southwest Allen County schools have indicated they will begin using the straps.

Frank Jackson, the transportation director for FWCS, expects the safety feature : which is now a choice : will be mandated someday.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game,” Jackson told the school board Monday.

The board unanimously approved purchasing 26 school buses for about 137,400. The vehicles will be equipped with seat belts, Jackson said, responding to a question from board member Glenna Jehl.

Board member Jordan Lebamoff asked about retrofitting buses with seat belts. FWCS is concerned about how that option might affect warranties, Jackson said.

Meanwhile, the Northwest Allen school board this spring approved a nearly $250,000 bus seatback retrofit project to install three-point seat belts on 24 buses.

In East Allen next week, students at Prince Chapman Academy and Southwick Elementary School will participate in training on buses newly equipped with seat belts, spokeswoman Tamyra Kelly wrote in an email.

Southwest Allen, which is buying seven buses with seat belts, is adding language to its handbooks addressing the change. Language presented to the board this month indicated students may face disciplinary action when they don’t wear seat belts as required.

In other business Monday, the FWCS board approved Anne Liddick as principal at Adams Elementary School, replacing retiree Federa Smith. Liddick was previously assistant principal at Harrison Hill Elementary School.

The board also approved about 40,000 project at Blackhawk includes replacing underground electrical feeders damaged during the removal of a concrete floor in the kitchen and serving area. Jefferson requires about $15,000 in repairs because water damaged the gymnasium wood floor.

Before adjourning, board President Julie Hollingsworth and member Tom Smith said they planned to attend the public hearing at tonight’s City Council meeting. They are concerned about a proposal to eliminate Allen County’s business personal property tax.

FWCS opposed such a proposal two years ago, when the school district stood to lose 11.5 million.

“That’s going to be difficult to absorb, $11 million,” Hollingsworth said.

asloboda@jg.net

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