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USC buses fail inspections

By Staff | May 23, 2010

Creativity and cooperation helped United South Central School District officials avoid a “mini crisis” of sorts on Friday, May 14.

Shortly after bus drivers had completed their routes, two Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials arrived to conduct an “unannounced inspection” of the district’s fleet of buses.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Jerry Jensen told board members six buses were “red-tagged” for minor infractions.

“The two new inspectors were thorough in exercising every detail of the law,” he says. “It was frustrating for Jeff Teskey (district’s transportation director), who thought our buses were in pretty good shape.”

Jensen says the district borrowed one bus from the Alden/Conger and Blue Earth Area school districts and Palmer Bus Service to make sure students could be transported at the end of the day.

“Our good neighbors came through for us,” he says. “We were able to work through this and get our buses cleared.”

Last summer, the district was required to repair some of its buses after MnDOT officials found some deficiencies.

Jensen says Teskey and others have worked hard to address any safety issues, but the condition of the district’s fleet is declining with age.

“We are never going to get ahead of this game and will be fighting the same issues every year,” he adds.

The superintendent suggested the board may want to consider purchasing new buses under a leasing arrangement.

Currently, the district has 15 buses, however, Jensen says two of them would be used as a “very, very last resort.”

Board members were presented two preliminary cost proposals to lease/purchase eight or five buses.

Jensen’s preferred option would be to buy eight busses at an estimated cost of $800,000 and the district would own them after six years.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.