Schools to utilize private lawn care

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System hopes to save more than $250,000 by privatizing its lawn care services.

During its monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews to award annually renewable contracts for two companies to provide grounds and athletic fields care and maintenance, rather than using NCSS employees as it does now. School board Vice Chairman Almond Turner was absent from the meeting.

The proposal stems from discussions in budget meetings over the summer, when school board members and system officials met several times to analyze the 2010-11 school year budget by line item to determine what was necessary and where the system could save money.

At Tuesday's meeting, the school board approved 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. School officials rated nine companies based on ability and then 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 the switch could save more than $250,000 per year, which is a conservative estimate.

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

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.