MOKANE, Mo. — After a spate of bus break-downs, the South Callaway R-2 School District's bus mechanics are scratching their heads.
Superintendent Kevin Hillman filled the South Callaway Board of Education in on the issue during Wednesday's meeting.
"All of our recent buses have been clogging up and not running," he said. "The bus will lose power."
So far, five buses have suffered identical, disabling filter issues. All are recent models: 2017, 2018 and 2019. All are manufactured by the same company and purchased from the same vendor. However, none of the 2020 buses purchased last year seem to have the issue.
"The issue on the buses is a filter that, as it gets 'gunked' up, does not clear itself and chokes the motor to the point it will not hardly have power to go," Hillman said. "We have tried to clean and heat them up to get the stuff off, but it comes right back."
The district took one bus in to be professionally serviced. After apparently being fixed, it didn't even make it out of the parking lot before breaking down again.
Luckily, according to Hillman, the district has enough functioning buses — extras usually used for trips — that routes haven't yet been impacted.
The district is investigating the issue, he said.
"They are at a place where they super-heat the filter systemm and the idea is that it is burnt off to be like new," he explained. "Our issue is that it is now a few buses and we feel that there is a defect, but we will see. Right now we just need some buses back."
The bus issue is one of several matters discussed on Wednesday by the school board.
Following a short delay, South Callaway R-2 has received the results of its 2019-20 annual audit.
"It's a good, solid audit," Hillman said. "I was very satisfied."
Certified public accounting firm Mueller, Walla and Albertson examined the district's modified cash basis financial statements, each major fund and the aggregate remaining fund information.
They stated in their findings report that they found no suspicious or improperly documented transactions and that the district's financial statement disclosures were neutral, consistent and clear. The firm encountered no significant difficulties with management while performing the audit.
Management corrected any likely misstatements uncovered during the audit, though the net effect to the district's financial position "was immaterial," the report states.
The auditors noted they identified "certain significant deficiencies in internal control."
"It's the same problem they always put in," Hillman said. "That's not going to get fixed unless we hire additional people — other small schools have the same problem."
Board members voted to accept the audit results.
The board also accepted a bid to complete tuck-pointing at all three district school buildings.
Initially, according to Hillman, the plan was to do only the middle and elementary schools, which were most in need. Lower-than-ever bids convinced him that now is the time to do all three.
The original low bid two years ago was $875,000, just for the middle and elementary schools.
Now, the low bid — by James Staat Tuckpointing and Waterproofing — is $622,295.
"The vendors are hungry," Hillman said. "We're getting prices now that won't be as good a year from now."
Hillman said the plan is to do the elementary, middle and high school buildings this summer, with hopes of completing the project two to three weeks before the first day of school in August.
"Each building has a different exterior, so they will take a different process to do the work," he said. "They will begin the work at the same time and coordinate the work on all three buildings."
The district is also looking at replacing certain windows in all three buildings, though they're still evaluating cost and how many to do this year, Hillman said.