Washtenaw County school districts react: State budget cut axes school bus inspections
A state budget decision has sent Washtenaw County school districts scrambling to figure out how to keep their buses running.
The recent round of budget cuts to the Michigan State Police includes inspectors in charge of making sure buses are safe to be on the road.
Each school bus is required to be inspected every year, but cuts to the school aid fund that pays for the inspectors included that funding
That’s left local school districts wondering what's next.
“We’re still trying to assess what this means,” said Ann Arbor Superintendent Todd Roberts.
Ann Arbor’s buses were inspected last November and need to be inspected sometime this school year. Roberts isn’t sure how that will happen.
“Who is out there and available out there to do it? Obviously we’re going to keep inspecting our buses to make sure they are safe,” he said.
Lincoln Superintendent Lynn Cleary is blunt with her assessment of what is going on.
"I have no plans to shut down our transportation department at this time. We had an excellent inspection last year and I know that our mechanics are the finest in the state. I will seek an independent party to inspect our fleet if required to do so.
"I will not use our children's safety as a pawn in this political standoff. The legislators should be ashamed of what they are doing to the education of our kids. I hope that our registered voters take note of all of this nonsense when they return to the polls at election time."
State police sent a letter to school districts across the state notifying them that the inspection program will cease on Oct. 31.
Chelsea Superintendent David Killips said the move isn’t likely to impact the district’s buses right away, but it could down the road.
"We had our last inspections last January," he said. "They are good for a year. We may need an interpretation on whether that year is considered to be January to January or will the last inspection stand until the end of the school year?
“Our understanding is that buses needed to be certified previously to be on the road. So, yes, it could curtail our busing program if this is not cleared up at the state level.”
Ypsilanti spokeswoman Emma Jackson said the district's buses were inspected last March, so officials don’t anticipate the elimination of inspectors will have any impact at this point.
Roberts said some discussion has occurred at the county level among superintendents about how to get their inspections done. He’s worried this is another thing districts will have to pay for.
Several state legislators told The Detroit News that the only option available may be a change in the law mandating the inspections.