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Next stop: New buses

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Students arrive at Live Oak Elementary School on Thursday morning to begin their school day. The Newton County School System is planning to purchase six new school buses this year with funding from the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Students arrive at Live Oak Elementary School on Thursday morning to begin their school day. The Newton County School System is planning to purchase six new school buses this year with funding from the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System is planning to purchase a few new buses with some special state funding.

The system was notified recently that the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission would provide funding to purchase some new school buses.

"The (departments) developed a bond program to provide reimbursements for local school systems to purchase new buses," said Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for operations at NCSS. "These resources were provided in lieu of school bus system replacement funds" for the past two school years.

He said the funds can be used only to purchase new buses and were based on the state's allocation system. NCSS was given the maximum allotted reimbursement -- $457,752 for six buses.

He said NCSS will end up paying $116,994 additionally from capital funds, which are used for construction projects and transportation, because of some of the extra equipment on the buses.

NCSS is planning to purchase three 48-passenger buses with a lift for $296,271 and three 72-passenger buses for $278,475; they are all equipped with air conditioning units, which is not common in most of the system's 200-bus fleet.

"Pricing is based on the current state of Georgia purchasing contract for school buses," Carpenter said.

The buses come from Rush Truck Centers, which was formerly known as Nalley Motor Trucks, in Atlanta. School board member Eddie Johnson said he wished NCSS would purchase buses from Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley because many people are without jobs in that part of the state and he wanted to help them out.

"The decision to purchase International buses from Rush Truck Centers of Georgia is based on a price comparison and also supports an overall effort to standardize the school bus fleet," Carpenter said, adding that service for those types of buses is usually easier and most of their parts are already in stock.

The Newton County Board of Education will vote on the recommendation by NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews to purchase the buses during its next 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.