City schools OKs $1.2 million purchase of land to park buses

This 32-acre plot of land on Three Rivers Drive once owned by North Rome Church of God has been sold to Rome City Schools. Board of Education members approved the $1.2 million purchase Wednesday during a called meeting.

The Rome City Schools board approved the $1.2 million purchase of a 32-acre plot of land on Three Rivers Drive during Wednesday’s called meeting.

According to Superintendent Lou Byars, the land will house the system’s new school buses once they arrive later this year. While the land hasn’t been fully developed, its previous owner have done some development on the property. North Rome Church of God approved selling the land to the city schools during a meeting on Sunday, Byars said.

The city school system will go through a 90-day due diligence process to make sure the land is appropriate for use. If it is, the system will develop a parking lot for the more than 30 school buses the board approved to purchase earlier this year. Byars said there would potentially be a small office also on the site, along with a security fence and cameras.

The lot will sit on the opposite side of Veterans Memorial Highway from Rome Middle and High schools. While Byars did not have a confirmed price point for how much the development will cost, he said the system will try to move quickly — but not rashly — to get the property ready by the first of the year.

The school system was forced to begin separating from the Rome Transit Department in February of this year after an audit determined the shared use violated Federal Transit Administration grant regulations. City students had been using RTD buses for over 30 years at that time and Rome City Schools did not have a transportation program in place.

After much planning and discussion, the board of education for RCS approved the purchase of 35 new school buses for $3.2 million. The school system has since received word that they will receive a rebate of around $77,000 for one of the school buses through a state program.

After the bus purchase was made, city school officials began to discuss where the buses will be parked.

Since the RTD facility receives federal dollars the system could not use city facilities for their bus storage and had to make other arrangements.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and FTA granted Rome City Schools an extension to continue using RTD buses until the end of 2019.

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