By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
BOE member questions liability in fleet inspection services
BOE discusses security camera upgrades, fleet inspections during Nov. 12 work session
The Newton County Board of Education members are, from left, Eddie Johnson, Shakila Henderson-Baker, Trey Bailey, Abigail Coggin and Almond Turner.

COVINGTON, Ga. — It's time for the Newton County Board of Education to renew its annual contract for fleet inspection services; however, board member Eddie Johnson questioned the liability of the provided services, stating he "never supported" the contract.

The contract for the fleet inspection services, if approved during the Nov. 19 meeting, will be awarded to Morgan Fleet Services Inc. in Monroe. The board has contracted for fleet inspection services since Nov. 14, 2016.

NCSS Chief of Operations Michael Barr introduced the contract renewal request to the board, saying the estimated contract value is $103,950. 

To understand the value of the inspections, Barr explained it will cost the county $55 per bus, per inspection, and the county owns 210 buses. To meet the requirements set forth by the state, the county must perform nine inspections each school year — which equals every 20 school days.

Johnson told Barr, and the other board members, that a contract should only be made when the county is incapable of performing a function. In this instance, he believed the county could perform the fleet inspections in-house with lower costs to the county.

“I’ve never supported it and will never support it because we are contracted out. We can do it cheaper in-house than we can do outside. The only reason we contract — I say we, for the most part — is when we are incapable of performing a function," he said. "This is a task that should be done inside."

Johnson also expressed concerns of liability, asking that if the company incorrectly inspected a bus, "What's the liability?" 

Barr said he was unaware of any previous situations with the company where an inspection was incorrectly completed. The company provided a "great deal" of documentation to prove the safety of the inspected buses, he said. 

Barr added the company previously hired two mechanics to inspect the buses, which proved to have a greater cost than the contracted work.

 “I believe there’s great value having a third party do the inspection services. If our own folks are doing it, they could be potentially inclined to overlook things that could be important because of other workloads," Barr said. “It brings me great comfort to know someone else is looking at our buses.”

“I totally disagree," Johnson replied.

The board also discussed upgrading the school system's security camera. 

The upgrades will be purchased from Nichols Security Commercial of Covington, Venture Netcom Inc. of Loganville and Byteworks of Duluth. 

The total cost of the upgrades is $1,151,509.92 — Nichols Security Commercial, contracted by the NCSS, will install the security cameras and serves for $966,737.30; Venture Netcomm, Inc., contracted by the NCSS, will install the cabling for $108,240; and Byteworks, contracted by the state, will install the switches for $76,532.62.

The decision was made to upgrade the security camera system as a part of the ongoing security improvements throughout the school system, according to Barr. The funds for the upgrades will come from two grants provided by the state — one for $690,000 ($30,000 per school) and a second for $153,597.

The board had no questions about the upgrades.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, to vote on the security system upgrades and fleet inspections.