Of the 34 school buses recently presented for inspection by Fulton Public Schools, 30 were approved (a rate of 88.2 percent) and four were found defective at the initial inspeciton. None, however, were taken out of service.
"It didn't come out the way we wanted it to," District Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said. "By the end of the day, (problems) were repaired on the four buses and we were 100 percent by the time the inspectors left."
Problems, he said, included a fire extinguisher that was not fully charged. Also, a buzzer on a emergency exit was not working (Cowherd said it was working the day before), there was a small exhaust leak, and in one bus, the power steering fluid was low.
"We respect the safety inspections," Cowherd added. "We also have to remember, ensuring kids are safe (is our job)."
This week, Col. Sandra K. Karsten, superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol, announced results of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Division's 2018 annual school bus inspection program.
A total of 12,018 school buses across the state of Missouri were inspected by Missouri Highway Patrol personnel during the 2018 program. Of all buses inspected, 90.6 percent were approved by inspection personnel with no defective items noted during inspection, Karsten said.
During the annual school bus inspection program, buses found to have no defective items are rated as "approved." Buses having one or more defective items which do not constitute an immediate danger are rated as "defective." Buses with a defective item which constitutes an immediate danger are rated as "out-of-service."
A company named First Student, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides bus service for the Jefferson City School District. This district which serves some students in Holts Summit. On behalf of the district, 77 buses were presented for inspection, and 73 were approved (94.8 percent). Three were defective and one taken out of service.
New Bloomfield School District is served by the company Durham School Services, which also serves Missouri School for the Deaf. Durham, which is headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, presented 13 buses, with 11 approved (84.6 percent). None were rated defective, but two were taken out of service.
North Callaway School District presented 22 buses and all were approved. This district, as well as South Callaway and Fulton, own their buses. South Callaway School District presented 20 buses, and all were approved.
Buses rated as "defective" may continue to be operated for the purpose of transporting students until repair is made. School districts are allowed 10 days following initial inspection to repair identified defects before being re-inspected by Highway Patrol motor vehicle inspection personnel.
Cowherd said Fulton's fleet dates from 1995-2016.
"We'll be getting two new buses in the next several weeks," he said.
Buses rated as "out-of-service" must be repaired, re-inspected, and placed back into service by Highway Patrol motor vehicle inspection personnel prior to transporting students. Buses not presented for re-inspection within the required 10-day period are reported to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Statewide, 2018 annual school bus inspection results of 12,018 buses were as follows:
A total of 281 Missouri school districts earned the Patrol's Total Fleet Excellence Award, obtaining an approval rating of 90 percent or higher with no buses placed out-of-service. During the 2018-19 school year, 6,532 buses in these award-winning fleets are eligible to display the Total Fleet Excellence sticker in the lower corner of the first window on the passenger-entry side of the bus.
"The annual school bus inspection program is one way the Missouri State Highway Patrol serves and protects our children. This program is a success because the Highway Patrol, Missouri's schools, and private pupil transportation companies make transporting students safely a priority," Karsten said. "I appreciate the positive and professional working relationship our agency shares with these professionals."
Missouri school bus inspection results are a matter of public record. Individual school district results are available on the Motor Vehicle Inspection Division webpage at mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/PatrolDivisions/MVI/index.html.