(1) Section 20-10-141 , MCA, establishes a schedule of bus transportation expenditures reimbursable from state funds. Reimbursable bus transportation shall be made on vehicles that are in compliance with 20-10-101 , MCA, and that meet the definition of school bus under state and federal law. Motor vehicles designed to carry ten or fewer persons do not meet the definition of a school bus and are not eligible for route reimbursement. To be eligible for reimbursement, motor vehicles that carry more than ten persons must meet the school bus standards set by the Board of Public Education for school buses in Montana and must pass semiannual inspection by the Highway Patrol.
(2) State and county reimbursement for bus transportation will only be paid for routes operated with buses (either district-owned or contractor-owned) that pass the Montana Highway Patrol's inspection. The Montana Highway Patrol's inspection will determine if the school bus meets the Minimum Standards for School Buses in Montana as adopted by the Board of Public Education.
(3) Section 61-9-502 , MCA, requires that the Montana Highway Patrol perform semiannual inspections of school buses. The first semiannual inspection must be passed prior to the beginning of the first semester. The second semiannual inspection must be passed no later than January 31.
(4) Only school buses that pass inspection may be used to transport students and only school buses that pass inspection will receive state and county transportation reimbursement. A school bus that fails to pass inspection will not be eligible for state and county reimbursement until the bus is reinspected and approved by the inspecting officer. The school district is responsible for contacting the Montana Highway Patrol for bus inspections. Nothing in this rule precludes the Montana Highway Patrol from inspecting school buses at other times as the highway patrol sees fit.
(5) Buses that are placed in operation after the school semester has begun must be inspected and approved by the Montana Highway Patrol before the vehicle is operated on the established route.