LANSING, Mich. — How school bus inspections should be handled in the future given the impending end to the state’s annual inspection program is drawing opposing views from those who will be affected by the change.
Officials for the Michigan State Police told the Lansing State Journal that they hope lawmakers will introduce and pass legislation that formally transfers the responsibility for conducting the inspections from state police to local school districts.
Shanon Banner, spokeswoman for the state police, added that some lawmakers had intended to shift that responsibility when they cut the department's funding for the program this fiscal year from $1.4 million to $421,000.
The cut to the funding reduces the number of inspectors from 15 to four staff members who will perform intermittent inspections of some school districts' buses, rather than annual inspections of all districts’ buses.
"We think it's a good compromise to be able to do the random and intermittent (inspections)," Banner told the news source. "It will allow us to focus on those districts that have a history of violations."
Ken Moore, president of the Michigan State Employees Association, which represents the inspectors, disagreed, telling the Lansing State Journal that it doesn’t make sense to weaken a program that has ensured children's safety as they travel to and from school. He also noted that if lawmakers shift the inspection responsibility to school districts, districts must either pay to train their own mechanics to perform inspections or contract for the service.
Paul Wegmeyer, supervisor of transportation for Holt (Mich.) Public Schools and chairman of the legislative committee for the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, expressed a similar sentiment, saying that shifting the inspection responsibility to districts would mean ending a consistent, reliable program that has held districts accountable.