Newton school board considers transportation savings

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is considering a new fuel card system that could save nearly $150,000 a year.

McPherson Companies Inc. made a presentation to the school board last month about its Fuelz Fleet Card system, a fueling alternative for the transportation department.

The company is a full-service company of petroleum products and services with operations in Atlanta and has been in operation in the Southeast for 40 years with a fuel card system for the last 20 years.

The Fuelz system can be tailored to various sized companies and have restrictions and features that can be customized to fit a business's needs.

Cards that transportation officials will use have controls like pump shut off, real-time transaction details and email alerts to avoid finding out problems at the end of the month or billing cycle. Limits can be placed on fuel grades and the number of transactions or gallons per transaction.

Additionally, there is no fee for transactions or annual usage, and it includes tax-free billing.

Also available are online management controls and preference, preventative maintenance scheduling and reporting by department and sub-departments. Transaction histories and data also can be downloaded into Microsoft Excel sheets.

Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Operations at the Newton County School System, said the fuel card system could make the transportation department more efficient.

The system could save $142,500 for the first year by conserving fuel purchases and implementing the system.

"That's a couple of teachers and a paraprofessional," Carpenter said.

He said the school system has looked into options like a fuel island, but that could cost $400,000.

Other systems have saved 10 to 15 percent on fuel purchases, also saving more than $100,000, they reported.

Carpenter said the implementation of the three-tiered bus system this school year also could help the department save more funds, something shown as an issue in a recent audit and something that would assist with rising fuel costs.

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews recommended that the school board award a contract to the company, but the board has tabled the motion until a later time. It has not been announced when the board will make a decision on the system.