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DeKalb school system to buy more school buses for $5M
by Christine Fonville
August 12, 2014 11:06 AM | 1930 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At a DeKalb County Board of Education business meeting last week, enhancements to transportation and the purchase of additional school buses as well as the school year readiness report, were topics of discussion.

At an earlier work session meeting, Interim Chief Operations Officer Joshua Williams presented to the board a special purpose local option sales tax project that would involve the purchase of 62 additional school buses for the district at a cost of about $5 million.

“Currently, we have about 962 school buses and we typically like to start off the year with a minimum of 950 buses,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to get as many buses as we possibly can to have additional surpluses in case some buses go down and this additional purchase will certainly support our efforts to do that.”

Williams said part of the effort to increase the district’s rate of replacement is specifically because the district has a number of buses that are older, though he did point out about 50 percent of the buses in use are “within 11 years or less.”

Once it is determined which buses will become part of the surplus fleet, some of the older buses will be auctioned off for the general community to purchase.

The board approved the project unanimously.

Superintendent Michael Thurmond said the district’s transportation system was the recent recipient of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Georgia diesel emissions reduction award. He said the award was a result of part of the effort and transition the district went through last year to try and provide safer, cleaner and more environmentally friendly transportation for students.

The award is given to school systems that have reduced emissions in up to 74 percent of their school bus fleet through early replacement of buses, installation of emissions control equipment and the use of alternative fuels.

“We’ve been applying for every grant we can get our hands on and these grants have enabled us to retrofit over 300 buses with a device that would reduce emissions and has provided us with opportunities to purchase new, low emissions school buses with matching funds, which positively impacts the entire DeKalb community,” said Director of Transportation David Guillory.

Also presented to the board was the annual school readiness report where Deputy Superintendent Alice Thompson shared information about additions and changes for the 2014-15 school year, which include:

-Six new principals in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county

-About 700 new teachers with an additional 100 new positions added this year

-1,600 new computers for teachers and staff and 2,000 new whiteboards fitted into every classroom

-A new, online portal for parents and students where notices of grades, attendance and class schedules will be posted

-A new technology academy to enhance technology skills for teachers

-GPS navigation systems for all buses

-The purchase of new instructional materials and rebuying of about 10,000 text books as a result of the fiscal 2015 budget that approved $5.3 million for additional textbook resources

-A new transportation hotline where parents can call to ask questions related to transportation and buses

-Six new school resource officers for elementary schools in the county and 12 new school safety vehicles, six for the elementary school clusters and six for the middle and high school clusters.

For more information, visit www.dekalb.k12.ga.us.

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Janice Stayshich
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August 16, 2014
The article about the plans to expand the school bus fleet by the DeKalb County Schools per their interim COO, Josh Williams, to "have additional buses in case some buses go down" is absurd if one goes to the deplorable bus shuttle site at Memorial College and looks at the dangerous and unsafe condition of the parking lot which Mr. Williams is well aware of. First, I have been picking up my 2 grandchildren there for 3 years and NO maintenance has EVER been done as we parents and grandparents have watched the lot deteriorate! No trash has ever been picked up, no trash containers on site, weeds have grown abundantly in the small median areas, piles of gravel, debris stacked up at various places,etc etc.Then last winter's storms left numerous potholes which are now so huge that they look more like sinkholes and it is almost impossible to maneuver through the lot not only for the people picking up students but especially for the bus drivers who are also very upset. It is far beyond simply filling in the potholes. The entire parking lot needs to be repaved and maintained on a regular basis. I have been complaining to DCSS Dept of Transportation since last spring and been told various excuses, e.g. "no money in the budget", "negotiations with Georgia Perimeter College" (the Facilities Director at GPC informed me that GPC does not own the property or "share" the usage with DCSS---it is solely DCSS' responsibility), "it's going to be done this summer"---NOT done!, and most recently, "we have to deal with the HVAC repair situation now". Yet I see articles like this one and in the AJC about the (much-needed, I'm sure) plans to upgrade the schools. We parents and grandparents, shuttle bus drivers, school bus drivers, and school police are all very upset at this unresolved situation. We are plannig to flood Mr. Williams' office with phone calls,start petitions, and notify the news media until something is done!
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