The approval rating for Missouri’s school buses during the statewide annual bus inspection program was 88.3% this year, up from 87.7% in 2011.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Motor Vehicle Inspection Division inspected a total of 11,934 school buses between Feb. 2 and April 30. Upon the initial inspection, 10,538 buses received approval — meaning they were found to be free of defective items.
Also during the initial inspection, 1,157 buses were deemed defective (meaning they had one or more minor defects, but are still safe for the transportation of students). The number of out-of-service buses after the inspection was 239. Those buses were deemed unsafe for the transport of students.
Buses rated as "defective" may continue to be operated for the purpose of pupil transportation until repair is made. School districts are allowed 10 days following initial inspection to repair identified defects before being reinspected by highway patrol motor vehicle inspection personnel.
"I applaud the working relationship among the employees of the patrol's Motor Vehicle Inspection Division and Missouri's school districts and contracting companies," said Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "This year's increase in approval rating is a clear indicator that Missouri's pupil transportation professionals continue to strive to make student safety their top priority. Missouri's schoolchildren deserve the safest transportation possible when traveling to and from school each day. The annual school bus inspection program continues to ensure that Missouri's school buses are among the safest in the nation."
A total of 256 Missouri school districts will be awarded the distinction of Total Fleet Excellence for approval ratings of 90% or higher with no buses placed out of service. During the 2012-13 school year, buses with an award-winning fleet may display the Missouri State Highway Patrol Total Fleet Excellence sticker in the lower corner of the first window on the passenger-entry side of the bus. In addition, each district earning the Total Fleet Excellence designation will receive a certificate from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Springfield Public Schools (SPS) was awarded the Total Fleet Excellence distinction after receiving a 96.5% approval rate. SPS had 144 buses inspected, and 96.5% of them passed inspection the first time. Five buses were found to have minor defects, which were corrected and the buses were passed with a follow-up inspection.
No buses were required to be taken out of service, according to Rick Emling, SPS' director of transportation.