INDIANAPOLIS — Voters in Washington Township will decide in May if a referendum should pass that includes a proposal to turn what is currently a soccer field into a service center for the school district's transportation operations.
Currently, Washington Township's school buses are housed in the center of four of the district's schools, which are all built on a single piece of land known as Central Campus.
"It's not a typical arrangement that most school systems would have all of their school buses housed in one location and typically they call that location a bus depot or a bus hub," transportation director Gary Clevenger said.
As the schools continue to grow, there is less room for the district's 145 buses, 70 of which are parked behind North Central High School and the rest at two additional parking lots on the east and west ends of Washington Township.
That arrangement is putting a strain on the transportation department as the east and west lots don't have restrooms for the drivers, fuel for the buses or garages to fix those buses.
"It's a lot more beneficial to have everyone together plus from a maintenance perspective you're not going 15 minutes this way and then 15 minutes that way to grab a bus, shuttle it back and forth," Clevenger said. "We have a lot of drivers during the middle of the day that that's there job is assisting the garage with shuttling buses back and forth so that they can get serviced. Its and additional challenge to do that."
In addition to a number of inefficiencies, Clevenger said sharing a campus with four schools, plus maintenance and ground staff has been a recipe for congestion and a host of near-miss collisions with student drivers from the high school.
That's why the district is considering building a new bus yard on what is currently a soccer field near 91st Street and College Avenue, which is land the district already owns.
"It makes more sense to have those type of things separated because its safety-sensitive work," Clevenger said. "These are all trained safety professionals that are driving these buses and yet we are putting them in a position where they are literally inches in some cases a students car. We all share the space and there's only a few exits to get on or off campus so we all have to use one of them. So it can be a bit of a challenge."
If the Washington Township Schools referendum passes in May, a new facility will house the