Fewer School Bus Inspectors

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

From 13 down to four. That's how many state police school bus inspectors will be making the rounds throughout the entire state of Michigan which has more than 17,000 buses.

"That's not enough manpower to get the job done as it is now," said Ken Moore, the president of the Michigan State Employees Association, "As we're doing with all classifications, we're doing more with less."

The state police budget will likely be cut by a million dollars. The budget has already passed the House and Senate and is just waiting for Governor Granholm's signature. That means the annual inspectors will now be more like auditors, putting the brunt of the work on the school districts.

"A bus will be inspected as if state police was doing it themselves," said the president and CEO of Dean Trailways, Kellie Dean. "The information will be filed and then throughout the year the state police will actually do random inspections and view the paperwork to make sure all the school districts are doing inspections."

Dean has a thousand bus fleet that services more than 100 school districts across the state, from Holland to Traverse City and the Lansing school district. He says he will be doing more with less but it actually might be for the best.

"With the challenges of the budget there will actually be a higher level of inspections starting with certified mechanics becoming inspectors," said Dean.

But Moore is not convinced. He said the rigorous inspection process can't fall on the shoulders of just anyone.

"Whether they privatize or what, it's going to be inefficient," said Moore.

It's a 180 part inspection from brakes and tire pressure to the stop sign. It's a very involved process that requires three days of training -- a burden that now falls on the school districts.

"We're shifting dollars that can come through state police and now are coming through the school districts," said Dean.

It's a financial burden that many districts will find hard to fund. But dean believes it can be done.

"We're going to work hard to inspect more thoroughly than in the past and we'll be overseen by state police," said Dean. "We will even increase to having inspections twice a year."

It's a tall order with limited resources but both sides agree that safety for the children can't be compromised.

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