By unanimous vote, the Newton County Board of Education took a $1.5 million cut into the $9 million in budget reductions needed for next school year by agreeing Tuesday to implement a three-tier transportation system.
The ability to save that much money comes with a price: Along with saving money by reducing the cost of fleet insurance and fuel consumption, the change will also eliminate 44 bus drivers, 25 substitute bus drivers and one mechanic. Net savings: $1,477,441.
It would also save $3,960,000 in future bus replacement costs by reducing the fleet by 44 buses. The estimated price per bus is $90,000.
A separate bus will be used for each school level (elementary, middle and high schools), which will mean middle schoolers will no longer ride buses with high schoolers.
Stop and start times will change slightly for the schools. In elementary school students will arrive between 7:15 and 7:40 a.m.; for middle school, at 8:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.and at high school between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. Elementary students will leave school between 2:10 and 2:20 p.m.; middle between 4:15 and 4:25 p.m. and high school between 3:15 and 3:25 p.m. Bell times would be at 7:40 a.m. and 2:10 p.m. in elementary school, 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. in middle and 8:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. in high school.
According to Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dr. Dennis Carpenter, the three-tier system would allow the district to have adequate staff and buses for athletic events and field trips.
"Three-tiered transportation has worked well in other localities around the nation," said Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews in a press release. "With each population having its own buses, I believe we are more ‘age-appropriate' when it comes to transporting our students. It should provide better discipline as has been the case elsewhere."