0

New school bus parking area opens

COVINGTON - Some Newton County school buses will have a new home this month.

Construction crews have nearly completed a new school vehicle parking area that could house up to 63 buses and 98 automobiles.

The nearly 4-acre area, which is located on Jack Neely Road adjacent to the new elementary school being built on Kirkland Road, is striped and fenced; lighting will be complete by the end of the month, said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at the Newton County School System.

Robertson said the new space, which transportation employees are expected to start using by Nov. 1, will give relief to the transportation service center, where many buses and automobiles are parked in addition to some parked at schools and homes.

"(The parking area) is very much needed," school board Vice Chairman Rickie Corley said.

In February, the school system reported that its bus fleet contained 202 conventional buses, 45 special-needs buses and 33 spare buses. Bus drivers and monitors also park their personal vehicles when they take the buses out.

Robertson said no other buses will return to their old spaces once moved because of such overcrowded conditions.

Additionally, Don Wood, construction projects manager at NCSS, said the new area will alleviate the need for more fuel for some buses.

"Parking the buses closer to their routes will save at least $150,000 per year in fuel costs," he said.

The parking area is part of the $13 million Kirkland Road elementary school project that is funded through SPLOST III, general obligation bonds and other local and state funding. The project is being completed by Mega Construction Inc.

School system officials said the new elementary school, which has yet to be named, also is on schedule.

At the Newton County Board of Education's work session Tuesday, Robertson said the lower floor slab is complete, and the upper floor slab is nearly half complete; steel erection also has begun.

The school is scheduled to open for the 2009-10 school year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.