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Education

Y115 School Board gets update on bus stop sign arm violations

Number of violations on the rise, board members told

Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education members (from left to right) Ashley Shields, Gary Katula, Tom Kozlowicz and Shawn Schumacher listen to reports during the school board meeting Monday night at the Yorkville High School library.
Yorkville School District 115 Board of Education members (from left to right) Ashley Shields, Gary Katula, Tom Kozlowicz and Shawn Schumacher listen to reports during the school board meeting Monday night at the Yorkville High School library.

The Yorkville School Board of Education received an update on climbing school bus stop sign arm violation numbers since cameras were added to the signs on 10 buses in December.

The update on the numbers following the installation of the cameras that are meant to capture photos of license plates of violators came during the school board meeting Monday night at the Yorkville High School library.

Lisa Banovetz, director of business services for District 115, said there have been 109 violations since Dec. 3, 2018. She said there were 38 violations in February and 13 to-date on Monday, March 18, where there were 58 in December and January combined.

"Which means they are going up," Banovetz said.

The update comes after the board approved the program at its Nov. 26 meeting to place 10 cameras on the stop sign arms of the buses run by Septran, the district's busing contractor.

Superintendent Tim Shimp said the district paid $324.90 per camera following the November decision.

District officials have said there are 120 buses in the Septran fleet and the total estimated cost to purchase and install the stop arm cameras on all of those buses would be $44,488. The district then would be reimbursed around $36,000 in the fiscal 2019 annual transportation claim if the entire fleet is approved.

Shimp said he is unsure of the timeline of the board considering outfitting the entire fleet with cameras. He said part of the reason why the board went with 10 cameras to start with is because of technology constantly and rapidly changing.

In the meantime, Shimp said, the district will continue to keep switching out the 10 cameras among all of the buses.

"Our hope is that we see a decrease as we finish the tail end of the school year," Shimp said.

School board member Tom Kozlowicz said it hasn't been financially practical yet for the school district to get cameras for all of its buses, but he said that's the goal. The school board has a responsibility to taxpayers but it also has a responsibility to its kids, he said.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of children," Kozlowicz said.

Drivers must stop their vehicles "before meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus stopped on a highway, roadway, private road, parking lot, school property, or at any other location, including, without limitation, a location that is not a highway or roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging pupils," according to the Illinois Vehicle Code.

Kozlowicz said it seems like a lot of residents don't realize those who break that law for the first time can have their driver's license suspended for three months.

According to state law, a driver faces a one-year suspended license if they break the law again within five years of their first violation. Violators also are subject to a $150 fine for the first violation and $500 for a second or subsequent violation. 

Yorkville Police Deputy Chief Behr Pfizenmaier said police have had reported violations most consistently at Route 47, Kennedy Road and Game Farm Road and there have been increased patrols in the meantime. He said all that police had to go on previously was witness testimony in these types of cases.

"Now, with the cameras, we're privy to the physical evidence," Pfizenmaier said.

Banovetz said district officials have reached out to Illinois State Police for additional visuals that show what to do in two-lane, three lane or four lane situation and when it's safe to pass or stop. She said the district will continue communicating with the public to try to get those violation numbers to go down.

Kozlowicz said it's been especially important to the board to have the enforcement continue for the safety of students. He said that's especially true after hearing several stories of children dying in the last year or so because of a motorist failing to stop for a school bus stop sign arm and flashing lights.

"We want to make sure that that tragedy does not happen here in Kendall County," Kozlowicz said.

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