Newton County School System asks for private lawn care

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System is trying to save some money by privatizing its lawn care services.

In a move stemming from discussions in budget meetings over the summer, NCSS is asking the Newton County Board of Education to approve annually renewable contracts for two companies to provide grounds and athletic fields care and maintenance, rather than using NCSS employees as it does now.

In a recommendation from Superintendent Gary Mathews, the board was asked to approve more than $281,000 worth of contracts — $188,485 to CMC Lawn Maintenance of Covington to cover grounds care and maintenance in NCSS and $92,724 to TruGreen Land Care of Norcross for athletic fields care and maintenance. The companies were among several that responded to an open request for proposals process earlier this school year. Officials then rated nine companies based on ability and price, said Deputy Superintendent Dennis Carpenter.

Normally, NCSS spends more than $534,000 on the services, according to a grounds and athletic fields cost analysis. Expenditures include salaries and benefits of 11 employees, landscape supplies, equipment and lawn care and maintenance payments to various companies.

Carpenter said if NCSS switches to the proposed contracts, it could save more than $250,000 per year, which is a conservative estimate.

If approved, he said the 11 employees who currently make up the department would be offered open custodian jobs at NCSS schools that haven't been filled due to anticipation of this switch.

Carpenter said NCSS plans to keep and maintain its current lawn equipment for one year in case the proposed plan doesn't work out. If it is determined successful after the year, the system likely will sell the equipment, which is valued at between $300,000 and $400,000, he said.

The school board will vote on the item during its regular session monthly meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at the Newton County BOE building at 2109 Newton Drive NE in Covington.