Busy buses: BoE considers spending $11M to replace aging school buses
by Emily Boorstein
August 13, 2014 04:00 AM | 4132 views | 3 3 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb transportation director Rick Grisham, left, watches as bus driver Elaine R. Martin inspects the mirror on a school bus at the district’s maintenance facility on South Cobb Drive in Marietta. The district is set to vote on purchasing several new buses at a cost of $11 million.<br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Cobb transportation director Rick Grisham, left, watches as bus driver Elaine R. Martin inspects the mirror on a school bus at the district’s maintenance facility on South Cobb Drive in Marietta. The district is set to vote on purchasing several new buses at a cost of $11 million.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
MARIETTA — More than two-thirds of Cobb school buses are more than 10 years old, and the Board of Education will consider spending about $11 million to put new ones on the roads.

Although the school district has a policy on its books that would cycle out buses after a decade of use, 707 buses, which is 63 percent of its 1,115 fleet, have been on the roads for 10 years or more. Of that 707, 180 buses have been in operation for 16 years or longer.

If the agenda item is approved this morning, $10.9 million will be used to purchase 100 72-passenger buses for regular education students and 25 48-passenger buses designed for special education students, according to district spokesman Jay Dillon.

Dillon said about $10 million will come from county special purpose local option sales tax dollars, with an additional $926,640 from the state department of education.

He said the district hopes to have all the buses in service by early spring, with the special education buses on the road by the end of December, and a staggered delivery of the regular buses starting in January.

Buses will be assigned by driver seniority, Dillon said, with considerations given to students on the special needs buses to accommodate their individual needs.

Dillon said the district will evaluate the condition of the older buses to determine which ones to retire. Until then, the new buses will give the system a total of 1,240 in its fleet. And while some buses may not be used on daily bus routes, having more buses in reserve will be useful, Dillon said.

“This purchase will allow us to bring our spare and activity bus counts up to cover routes when a bus must go in the shop for repairs,” Dillon said.

The school board will also consider whether to pay for more students to take the preliminary SAT, an assessment geared toward getting high schoolers ready to take the SAT.

The Georgia Board of Education pays for every 10th-grade student to take the PSAT. Cobb board member David Banks is championing spending $300,000 out the district’s rainy day reserve fund to extend the tests to eighth- and ninth-graders.

“Some schools may not forward test all their students.” Banks said. “So that means (when students) get into the high schools, they may not be as proficient or experienced at taking the test as say, an east Cobb school” where parents or the schools can afford to give the test to students more often, Banks said.

Banks thinks giving students the PSAT for three years could raise SAT scores in the district by as much as 5 percent.

“There’s two primary numbers that are important to a student’s life,” Banks said, “GPA and SAT. If they’re going to go to college, they’re going to have to have a good GPA and a good SAT.”

The school board will vote on personnel matters as well.

It is set to name a new principal to Baker Elementary School after its last principal, Shea Campbell, was reassigned to Kemp Elementary School. The median salary is $85,000, according to John Adams, the district’s human resources chief.

Two central office positions are also on the agenda: the executive director of employment and the technology program management director.

The employment director job came available at the last school board meeting when it accepted the resignation of Tim Baker, who took a job in Virginia to oversee an HR department at a school system there. Adams said that job commands an average salary of $87,500.

Adams said the technology job has been vacant and has a median salary of $85,000.

The school board will meet at 514 Glover St. in Marietta at 8:30 a.m.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 13, 2014
Please by all means spend more money on testing and make the kids take more tests. Ridiculous! Half of colleges are taking the ACT as well. Don't spend money out of the fund to do MORE testing when you know once the election is over, there will be no new monies coming in and we will be back to a deficit. For once, please be smart with our money!

A Senior
August 13, 2014
"Buses will be assigned by driver seniority, Dillon said.

Seems like the Seniority of the bus should be a bigger consideration.

Those over 15 years old should be first.

August 13, 2014
Banks needs to be reeled in. Spending money from reserves to do more testing is ridiculous!
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