The Missouri State Highway Patrol has released results from their annual Motor Vehicle Inspection Division's Bus Inspection Program for the 2017-2018 school year showing bus inspection approval ratings improve as well as a decline at three local school districts --Rolla Public Schools, Newburg R-II School District, and St. James R-I School District.

Across the state, over 12 thousand school buses were inspected, and inspection personnel approved 90.6 percent with no defective items noted.

The buses with no defective items found received an “approved” rating, those found with defective items that do not impose an immediate danger received a “defective” rating, and those posing immediate danger are taken out-of-service.

Rolla Public Schools had a slight decline in approval percentage from 2017 and 2016, yet the district was the only school district out of the three to qualify for the Patrol’s Total Fleet Excellence Award due to the school district’s 92.2 percent approval rating where 59 out of the 64 buses presented were approved. Four of the buses were considered defective, and there was one out-of-service bus.

Director of Transportation for Rolla Public Schools, Loretta King, explained that simple things such as lights going out will result in a defective bus, which was the case for the four defective buses. A blown tire was the reason for the out-of-service bus.

“Every year we start going through everything with a fine tooth comb, each year is a new thing--we fight through it every year because we always look to improve,” said King.

Newburg R-II School District had a significant decline in approval percentage from 2017 and 2016. Out of the 12 buses presented, six buses were approved resulting in a 50 percent approval rate, yet no buses were considered out-of-service.

Transportation Director for Newburg R-II School District, Russ Mudd, stated that the defective buses were due to non-working lights and things that couldn’t be fixed immediately.

“Basically they were minor, so we had zero buses that were taken off that were not able to run at night because they were minor things they got us on,” stated Mudd. “Our goal is 100 percent, 100 percent is tough, our bus mechanic does a fantastic job, and he is always striving to get that 100 percent.”

St James R-I School District improved this year, yet was just shy of earning the excellence award with an 87 percent approval rate. Out of the 23 buses presented, 20 buses were approved, and there were zero buses out-of-service.

St. James Director of Transportation, Ron Copeland, explained, “It’s a matter of we try to stay on top of stuff every day.”