Cassopolis Public Schools change bus routes

CASSOPOLIS — As of Monday, Nov. 12, Cassopolis public schools added a few minutes to the bus routes so students would no longer have to cross the street to board their buses.

The eight or nine buses that carry Cass students to and from school are only to pick students up on the door side of the buses, an adjustment Superintendent Angela Piazza felt was an urgent need.

The decision was made after a tragic accident involving three elementary students in Fulton County, Indiana. Six-year-old twins, Xzavier and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were killed the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 30 while crossing the street to board their bus. The driver of the truck was not paying attention to the bus’ stop signs and lights.

“It hits home when you’re in the business of working with children,” Piazza said. “The day we heard about the tragedy in Fulton I contacted our transportation supervisor to see how many front crosswalks we had. I asked bus staff to take a look at that, and to eliminate as many (front crosswalks) possible, all if we could.”

The rural roads were especially of concern to the superintendent.

“With our start times, it’s still dark out in the morning,” Piazza said. “Our district has a lot of hills and curves. A lot of vehicles disregard signs arms and stop signs. So many drivers travel at a high rate of speed on country roads. Why risk it?”

The changes did add time to the bus routes, but Piazza explained why the added time was worth the adjustment.

“We’d rather have extra time,” she said. “If it saves a life, it’s more than worth it.”

Piazza was impressed with the efficiency and speed of transportation supervisor Gerald Zachary, and the bus staff. Zachary took time to ride some of the bus routes, according to Piazza, and marked down where turnarounds and different routes could be used. Nearly 75 percent of the front crosswalks were eliminated when Piazza first contacted Zachary, and 100 percent of them were eliminated by Nov. 12.

“It was very commendable,” Piazza said. “Transportation took this very seriously, and did this work quickly.”

Piazza was also grateful for the community response to the change. Using certain areas on the bus routes for turnarounds could be seen as an inconvenience for some, but she heard nothing but positive response from the individuals and groups in charge of those areas.

“I want to thank the community,” Piazza said. “It was a smooth process, and the community was so open and receptive. I really appreciate that about this community.”

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