Confident school leaders watching bus safety

Upon first reading the news story Wednesday that eight of 93 school buses owned by school districts in Northeast Michigan were red-tagged, or designated as unsafe, it set off alarms for us.

And it should. Michigan State Police late last school year inspected the buses of area school districts as to their safety.

But this is not a case of district superintendents turning a blind eye to the problem. Rather, it’s a sign of district officials trying to stretch every mile they can out of buses that they know are nearing the end of their service life.

As you dig deeper in the story, for instance, you read that, in Posen, where two buses were red-tagged, neither bus is used for transporting students anymore. One of the buses is used for parts for repairs to other buses, while the other has a dead engine and just sits on the school property.

Alcona’s two red tags were for rot and rust, not mechanical issues.

It should be noted that both Atlanta and Rogers City school districts had zero buses designated for red tagging. Atlanta has five buses in its fleet, while Rogers City has eight.

In Alcona, where two buses were red-tagged, Superintendent Dan O’Conner said the inspections were a result of district officials trying to get every mile they can out of their fleet.

“Our school buses are aging …,” he told reporter Julie Goldberg. “We’ve been working on replacing them.”

The same is true for the other districts as well.

The safety of our students has to remain paramount for everyone.

And we are confident that, because of reports like this that help districts identify potential problems, those concerns are being addressed.



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