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Legislative Audit Commission

Minutes

January 29, 2008

Members Present:

Representative Michael Beard      Senator Don Betzold
Representative Sondra Erickson Senator David Hann
Representative Rick Hansen Senator James Metzen
Representative Steve Simon Senator Ann Rest
Senator Claire Robling

Members Absent:

Representative Michael Beard Senator David Hann
Representative Aaron Peterson    Senator James Metzen
Representative Steve Simon

Other Legislators Present:

Representative Mindy Greiling

The Legislative Audit Commission meeting was called to order by Representative Rick Hansen, Chair, at 10:00 a.m.  The purpose of the meeting was to release the program evaluation report, School District Student Transportation.

Representative Hansen introduced Mr. Nobles to give a brief overview of the evaluation.  Mr. Nobles introduced Judy Randall, project manager of the report.  Ms. Randall explained that improvements are needed in several areas.  She said that the main findings of the evaluation are that qualifications of some drivers are insufficient, many school districts do not provide adequate oversight of drivers and contractors, and the Department of Public Safety provides minimal oversight of school bus drivers and its data system is inadequate.  The report called for several recommendations in the following areas:  the Legislature should increase qualifications for drivers and require the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to review driver files; DPS should increase its oversight of school bus drivers and improve its data system; the Department of Education should develop and promote student transportation best practices; and school districts should follow student transportation best practices.

Representative Hansen introduced Ken Urquhart, Captain with the State Patrol from the Department of Public Safety.  Captain Urquhart explained that the vehicle inspection division has 11 people who do 14,000 inspections each year.  He also said that the department is doing things to try to improve the way they collect the data from the vehicle inspections.  He went on to say that a lot of times when they are doing a school bus inspection, a mechanic is following along with them to make any repairs necessary right away.  That way they can get the vehicles back on the road immediately.  In response to Representative Hansen’s question, Captain Urquhart said that if his division were to do more inspections of drivers, they would definitely need more resources as there are 20,000 endorsed school bus drivers.

Representative Hansen introduced Tom Melcher, Director of Program Finance with the Department of Education (MDE).  Mr. Melcher said that the department supports all three recommendations made for MDE and that they will work on implementing them. 

Mr. Nobles reminded the commission members about the upcoming LAC meeting on February 8th at 10:00 a.m.  He said that the OLA would be releasing the evaluation “Green Acres” and AgriculturalLand Preservation Programs and also attempting to release the evaluation JOBZ Program.  He also said that the OLA is looking at the week of February 18th to release the report State Highways and Bridges, but that no specific date had been set yet.

With no further business, Representative Hansen adjourned the meeting at 11:10 a.m.

_______________________________________
Representative Rick Hansen, Chair

_______________________________________
Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary

 

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155