Behind the scenes of a fleet of school buses

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The inside scoop for those who drive, maintain and inspect school buses at DSUSD

A school bus driver once told me that she takes great pride in her job because she is the first person children see when they leave home to go to school. She told me that she respects the trust parents have in her to get the kids to school safely, to be there to help in any way.

School bus fleet

Now think about the vehicle the bus driver drives. The mechanics feel the same. About half of the 2,800 DSUSD employees are neither in class nor in school. These are the behind-the-scenes team members who feed your kids, maintain the schools, install and update the technology for today’s classrooms and, yes, guard the school buses and all vehicles in the district. in perfect condition.

The Desert Sands Unified School District operates over 300 mechanically operated machines that are part of our fleet. We maintain and operate over 100 school buses as well as our “white fleet” which includes trucks, vans, golf carts and heavy machinery. The district is committed to building a fleet of buses and other vehicles that run on clean energy sources. Currently 45 of the large buses run on natural gas and five of the small buses run on propane. As vehicles are replaced, the district will add electric vehicles to the fleet.

School bus maintenance, according to Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Kurt Jandt, is “heavily regulated by the California Highway Patrol.” He noted that the misconception is that regulation for bus safety is the responsibility of the Department of Motor Vehicles but, in fact, it is CHP that inspects the buses and trains our team of DSUSD staff trainers.

Behind the scenes of a fleet of school buses

Bus maintenance

Each bus is inspected every 45 days or 3000 miles by our mechanics. Once a year, the CHP inspector makes an unscheduled appearance at the bus station / DSUSD terminal to inspect random school buses and documents. Each bus is inspected and certified by CHP within 13 months of the last certification. Every month, 10 to 15 buses are inspected. In addition to checking the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and license, they check lights, gauges, signals, etc. They inspect the tires, pneumatic system, brakes, lights, steering and all mechanical systems. A separate page on the California Highway Patrol website covers all aspects of the appropriately named school bus program. Click here for more information.

The terminal and the garage are carefully checked once a year by an inspector. The inspector arrives at the terminal without giving notice of the inspection and begins the examination. At that time, 15 buses that were in the field were called back to the terminal from wherever they were to undergo an additional inspection. If a particular bus is pulled out on a school site or on a field trip, another bus is sent to replace it so that the driver can return to the district office. The annual terminal inspection is rated “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”.

Behind the scenes of a fleet of school buses

Happy school bus driver day

DSUSD takes great pride in the maintenance of its fleet, especially the buses that carry our children. Nine of our mechanics, including supervisor Jandt, are fully qualified. To be mechanics on school buses, individuals must also have their business license. The Class B license must also be accompanied by what is called a passenger endorsement. According to the California DMV, a Class B passenger approval allows a diver to operate “any vehicle with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 26,001 pounds or more AND carries 16 or more passengers, including the driver ”. Mechanics undergo extensive training, pass written and driving tests. With 21 years of service, Jandt noted that he had mechanics who had been on the team even longer than him.

The DSUSD mission statement is “to inspire and encourage every student… one opportunity at a time”. This is true in the classroom as well as in everything we do, as we do everything we can to keep our children safe.

Note: The Desert Sands Unified School District offers a variety of employment opportunities. For more information, click here: DSUSD Edjoin Vacancies

Image sources

  • Bus fleet: DSUSD
  • IMG_5398: DSUSD
  • On the move: DSUSD


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