SHERIDAN — Regulation changes for school buses in Wyoming might result in financial implications for districts throughout the state.
The Wyoming Department of Education is currently seeking public comment on Chapters 20 and 2 rules concerning student transportation, according to a July 3 release from the WDE.
“During the 2019 legislative session, HEA125 repealed the moratorium on the purchase of student transportation vehicles,” the release reads. “The proposed revision of Chapter 20 rules incorporates legislative mandates that include: defining procedures for and conditions under which school districts may procure student transportation vehicles; establishing a mileage and age replacement schedule for student transportation vehicles; and establishing a competitive bid process for student transportation vehicle procurement.”
Sheridan County School District 2’s Transportation Director Shawn Stevens told trustees at the SCSD2 Board of Trustees meeting July 17 he would be submitting comments to the WDE on this subject.
“The state is rewriting a lot of the chapter rules that define transportation requirements,” Stevens said. “One of those is a limitation on the age and mileage of replacing school buses, so if you have any public comments about those, now would be a good time to share those with WDE.
“The main concern for me is replacing school buses at 17 years or 240,000 miles,” Stevens continued. “So I think we could put a few comments on there.”
Stevens explained to board trustees that a regulation for replacements does not currently exist. Last year, transportation directors were required to retire buses only if there were an accident or other issues that would require it to be off the roads for the safety of the students.
In the statement of reasons for the potential change, WDE mentioned that since the last updates to Chapter 2 and 20 rules in 2012, “changes in manufacturing processes and mechanical and technological advances have significantly affected the design, production and performance of school buses and other student transportation vehicles.”
The new rules reflect industry improvements that maintain or enhance safety, security and efficiency of student transportation. The rules were developed and vetted by a stakeholder committee comprised of district transportation personnel and bus manufacturer representatives.
Trustee Wayne Schatz asked if travel conditions, like dirt roads, affected the wear and tear differently on buses. Stevens wasn’t aware of studies completed to compare the wear and tear on a dirt road vs. highways and paved streets.
“We have some buses that travel some pretty long distances on rural roads and they’re having small cracks in some of the plastic and some of the bolts rattle loose,” Stevens said. “That’s what we spend a lot of our summer doing, going through buses making sure things are re-tightened up and all the dirt is cleaned from underneath them.”
Stevens said to help alleviate wear and tear to one particular vehicle, he rotates the buses through different routes. But, Stevens added, the most reliable buses will remain or rotate to routes that would cause more issues if it were to break down while in service.
The full list of changes to the chapters is available on the WDE website. Public comment for Chapter 2 and 20 changes is open until Aug. 17. Comments can be submitted online at http://bit.ly/bustransportation or mailed to Wyoming Department of Education, Attn: Justin Budd, 122 W. 25th St., Suite E200, Cheyenne, WY 82002.