DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Board of Education (BOE) last week approved a proposal to increase the state’s school bus inspection fee, and it is now pending approval from the office of Gov. Terry Branstad.
Currently, school districts pay $28 per bus when inspections are performed. That fee pays for the school bus inspectors. During a meeting on Thursday, the state BOE voted to up the bus inspection fee to $40, which would enable the state to hire one additional inspector.
The fee increase is supposed to take effect on July 1.
The need for more school bus inspectors is an issue that state pupil transportation director Max Christensen has been working on for more than six years, as the state has 348 school districts and a fleet of 7,500 vehicles.
(There is currently one school bus inspector in Iowa: Verlan Vos. His colleague, Owen Freese, recently retired and now serves as executive director for the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association. The one additional inspector that would be enabled by the fee increase would be in addition to a replacement for Freese.)
"Our school transportation office is fully funded from school bus inspection fees,” Christensen told SBF. “Without a fee increase, we are unable to hire additional inspectors, thus the increase is vitally important to keeping a viable school bus inspection process in the state of Iowa. Compared to other states, we are understaffed in this area, and I think those numbers speak for themselves in regard to the need for an additional school bus inspector."
A public hearing on the fee increase that was supposed to take place on Feb. 26 has been postponed because of the need for further approval. BOE officials said the public hearing date will be announced later.
Those with questions about the new public hearing date may contact Mike Cormack at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3399.