The inside scoop to those who drive, maintain, inspect school busses at DSUSD

A school bus driver once told me that she took great pride in her job because she is the first person that children see as they leave home for school. She told me that she respects the trust that parents have in her to get children to school safely, to be there to help in whatever way is needed.

Behind the Scenes of a Fleet of School Buses

Fleet of school buses

Now think about the vehicle that the bus driver is operating. The mechanics feel the very same way. Approximately half of the 2,800 DSUSD employees are not found in the classroom or in the school. They are the behind the scenes team members who feed your children, keep the schools maintained, install and update the technology for today’s classrooms, and, yes, keep the school buses and all district vehicles in tip-top shape.

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” that includes trucks, vans, golf carts, and heavy machinery. The district is committed to building a fleet of busses and other vehicles that run on clean energy sources. Currently 45 of the large buses use natural gas and five of the small busses operate 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 California Highway Patrol”. He noted that the misconception is that the regulations for safety of the buses falls under the Department of Motor Vehicles but, in fact, it is CHP who inspects the buses and provides the training for 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 DSUSD bus yard/terminal to inspect random school buses and the paperwork. Each bus is inspected and certified by CHP within a 13 month period of time from the last certification. Each month 10 to 15 buses are inspected. In addition to verifying the VIN (vehicle identification number) and the license, they check the lights, gauges, signals, and more. They inspect the tires, air system, brakes, lights, steering, and all mechanical systems. A separate page of the California Highway Patrol website covers all aspects of the appropriately named School Bus Program. Click here for more inormation.

The terminal and garage are carefully checked out once every year by an inspector. The inspector arrives at the terminal having provided no notice of the inspection and begins the review. At that time 15 buses that are out in the field are called back to the terminal from wherever they may be to have an additional inspection. Should a particular bus be out at 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 yearly terminal inspection is rated as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”.

Behind the Scenes of a Fleet of School Buses

Happy School Bus Driver’s Day

DSUSD takes great pride in our fleet maintenance, especially the buses that transport our children. Nine of our mechanics, including Supervisor Jandt, are fully qualified. To be mechanics on school buses, the individuals must also have their commercial license. The Class B license must also be accompanied by what is known as a passenger endorsement. According to the California DMV, a Class B passenger endorsement allows a diver to operate “any single vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 pounds or more AND carries 16 or more passengers including the driver”. The mechanics take in-depth training, take both written and driving tests. With 21 years of service, Jandt noted that he has mechanics who have been on the team for even longer than he has.

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

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


Image Sources

  • Fleet of buses: DSUSD
  • IMG_5398: DSUSD
  • On the move: DSUSD