The Darlington Community School Board of Education heard a presentation from Brad Willborn and Ole Olson on their signs that alert other vehicles of slow moving vehicles ahead or even stopped buses.
Willborn of Belmont and Olson of Oregon, also a native of Belmont, are the creators of Slow Ride LLC, which produces a road sign that detects the rate of speed and turns on flashing lights to warn oncoming traffic that there is something slow moving in front of them and to slow down themselves.
“We are here today to show you an option for making it safer for those getting on and off the buses,” Olson stated.
Olson added that people drive by the static ‘Bus Stop Ahead’ signs and they don’t know if there is a school bus over on the other side of the numerous amount of hills in Lafayette County or even around the corner.
“What we are doing is giving the school bus driver a remote control, so they can trigger the sign when they go by. With the hills around here, you can completely hide a school bus in 120 feet, which is your field of view,” Olson said.
Willborn stated that he had taken Mike Whalen, a bus driver for the Darlington School District, and showed him the signs. They discussed several different places that the sign would be most useful.
“This sign we can program it for whatever time it takes for the bus driver to pick up or drop off the kids. This is a preventional tool to help us reduce the number of times someone zooms by a bus,” Willborn added.
The sign is portable, so as kids grow up and the school bus no longer needs to stop there it can be moved. It has a solar panel, a 12V battery, LED lights, and a controller with a radio frequency transmitter that a remote can trigger. A bus driver can trigger the sign within 500 feet with the remote control. It can be programmed to stay on as long as the bus driver needs.
“If you are driving a 55 passenger school bus and have five stops that make you nervous and have to stop there twice a day, that’s 10 times a day; 180 days of school a year; that’s 1,800 times you might be nervous every time you stop and that could be each bus driver. We want to give a little more warning before the bus drivers have to stop,” Olson said.
Olson said they would give a one-year warranty on everything and they would install it for free. To install the sign, it costs around $1,800. Willborn hoped that they would just attach the brackets to the existing signs. The township, county or state would put in a sign if one did not exist. All the Slow Ride signs would need is a 4x4 post. If the school purchased the signs, they would own the mechanism.
Willborn stated they have done this presentation at many places and they all have the same concern with paying for the sign. He said there is many ways to obtain the finances, be it through grant money or sponsors. The grant money would not be quick and would not be available by the beginning of the next school year.
“We’re going to sell this to any school district that has the need and is interested. We are starting in Lafayette County because we are local and we know that with the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin there is a huge need. Hopefully overtime this will be state wide,” Willborn addressed.
Aaron Wolfe suggested the Transportation Committee discuss this idea and look at issues throughout the district that may be troublesome to the bus drivers.
The Darlington Community School Board of Education also accepted/approved:
-a donation of $200 from the Johnson Public Library to the Spanish Club for assisting with translations.
-a donation from the Wiegel Strong Foundation of $6,100 for new mats in the high school that will replace the mats on the gymnasium walls and the stage.
-a $1,000 donation from the Pop Factory Players toward a sousaphone for DEMS.
-a $1,000 donation from the Wiegel Strong Foundation toward a sousaphone for DEMS.
-a donation of $600 from the Darlington Lions Club for the purchase of a water bottle filler at the DEMS building.
-volunteer assistant coaches Brad Schliem, Benjamin Conway, and Cole McDonald for DHS baseball; Cassidy Cox for DHS softball and Carly Reilly for DHS track & field.
-Tony and Donna Jean Wiegel’s request to host Valarie Trozzo from Italy and Steve and Sarah Messner’s request to host Mirriam Lindquist from Sweden for the 2017-2018 school year.
-the annual Art Trip to Chicago Art Museum.
-2017 Summer School.
-Sysco as the Food Commodity Vendor.
-the cooperative team renewals for Darlington and Black Hawk for wrestling during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years and Monroe, Darlington and other districts for boys hockey during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years.
-having a special board meeting on March 27 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the Energy Efficiency contract.