Rockwood takes school bus action

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Earlier this week we told you about an alarming percentage of school buses that did not pass inspections within the Rockwood School District. The annual Missouri Highway Patrol inspections reported only 20 percent of the bus fleet passed inspections.

We wanted to know how district officials going to turn that percentage around?

The district says they've already started making changes and are considering all their options, while locked into a contract with a bus company. Immediately after the inspections in February, Rockwood district officials say they knew they had a problem and began meeting with First Student, the company providing them with 166 buses.

"I don't think we are giving them any kind of leeway, my own grandchildren ride these buses, and so we started watching out to make sure they were doing what they said they would do," said Rockwood school district board president Bill Brown.

Those changes include 74 new buses and adding certified mechanics working both day and night maintaining the fleet.

Dr. Eric Knost, who will be the new Rockwood superintendent next month, agrees with the current administration's approach.

"I am impressed with out the current Rockwood superintendent responded to it, both now and coming into the news," said Dr. Knost.

Dr. Knost's current district, Mehlville, passed the inspections with flying colors, 100 percent of the district's buses passed. He says the difference is current district owns their fleet and his new district contracts out.

Brown says getting out of the contract is not exactly on the table.

"I think that's premature, I think that like we said we've identified the problem and we identified a solution," said Brown.

He says getting their own fleet is something that may be considered in the future, but they want to live up to the contract.

"You have to look at the bus company and they have to understand on their end that it's unacceptable and I think they've already received that message," said Dr. Knost.

The contract with First Student has two more years on it.

Rockwood officials say they expect the highway patrol to surprise check the buses this coming year to make sure things are changing.


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