A total of 258 Missouri school districts earned the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Total Fleet Excellence Award this year. - File photo

A total of 258 Missouri school districts earned the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Total Fleet Excellence Award this year.

File photo

Following this year’s annual state school bus inspections, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) honored more than 200 school districts for outstanding school bus maintenance and safety.

In August, MSHP's Col. Eric T. Olson announced the results of the Driver and Vehicle Safety Division’s annual school bus inspection program, according to a news release from the agency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges. However, the unified effort of motor vehicle inspection and pupil transportation professionals ensured the inspection of Missouri’s 11,828 school buses was completed successfully,” Olson said in the news release.

Of those buses, the agency deemed 10,539 buses “approved” upon initial inspection, 1,030 buses as “defective”, and 259 buses as “out-of-service.” The buses found defective require repair within 10 days, and the buses placed out-of-service require correction of the component(s) prior to further usage, according to the MSHP.

A total of 258 Missouri school districts earned the agency’s Total Fleet Excellence Award this year. During the 2020-21 school year, 5,594 buses in the 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 transportation team at McDonald County R-1 School District was one of this year’s award recipients, receiving a 90.6% inspection approval rating for 64 of the district’s buses.

Tiffany Lilly, the district's transportation director, told McDonald County Press that the remaining 9.4% of the district’s buses that were deemed "defective" included one bus with a slight exhaust leak and another with a loose light — both of which were fixed after inspections.

Despite those hiccups, Lilly told the newspaper that “it feels really good” to receive the award and that she commends her maintenance technicians for ensuring their buses are safe as possible for students.

McDonald County R-1 School District reportedly has a total of 68 buses that are driven an average of 5,000 miles per day with 51 routes and 53 drivers, according to McDonald County Press. The oldest buses in the fleet, the newspaper reports, are two 2000 model buses that are being replaced this year. The district was also approved for Volkswagen settlement funding for seven new 2022 model buses this year.

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