Columbia County school officials might consider outsourcing bus drivers.
During a discussion Wednesday about funding to hire nine new bus drivers, school board member Mike Sleeper asked that staff investigate the possibility of hiring an outside firm to supply the system's transportation needs.
Sleeper said officials in Savannah area school systems have told him that they saved as much as $1 million by outsourcing transportation.
Because local officials are preparing to receive proposals for outsourcing janitorial services for the schools, Superintendent Charles Nagle said they can also check on transportation services.
Transportation Director Dewayne Porter said any bus outsourcing firm likely would just be for personnel, salaries and benefits. Local officials still would maintain the fleet and design bus routes.
With the nine new hires, the school system employs more than 180 bus drivers, and each make more than $12,000 a year, Porter said.
Also at the meeting, the school board approved a calendar for the 2011-12 school year.
Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said teachers liked best the calendar that gave them Jan. 2, 2012, as a professional learning day. The other calendar set that day as the start of the second semester but gave teachers Feb. 21 as a professional learning day.
The adopted calendar sets Aug. 8 as the first day of school, with graduation on May 19, 2012.
After a closed session, Nagle said he told school trustees he could not come to terms on a price for land to build a new Columbia Middle School.
However, he said, another property owner on Columbia Road has offered to sell to the school system and officials are exploring that possibility.
As a consequence of the delay in the land purchase, officials had to push back the opening date of a new school until August 2013.
Officials initially wanted to open the school before the 2012 school year, but that would require that the site work start this year. Nagle said he doesn't think that will be possible.
Because the opening of the school will be pushed back, Nagle said, the board will also delay the sale of $45 million in bonds until spring. Officials had intended to conduct the bond sale next month.
Voters approved the bond referendum and continuation of the 1 percent sales tax in the July primary election.
The sales tax and bond referendum will be used to replace several aging schools in the county, including Columbia Middle, Martinez Elementary, Evans Elementary and the alternative school in Grovetown.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.