The Rome City Schools system is on schedule to roll out their new buses on Jan. 7, and it’s been a long road to get to this point.
Following the shock of a Georgia Department of Transportation audit calling for an end to the 35-year arrangement to transport students on Rome Transit Department buses, things are finally wrapping up.
Here’s what’s happening.
RCS just closed on property to park the buses
For a price tag of about $1.15 million, the land purchased to park the buses will be ready by the end of January, according to RCS Superintendent Lou Byars. The land is near Rome Middle and High Schools across the loop on Three Rivers Drive. Along with that, the property will also have an office trailer to house at least four employees.
The employees include a transportation director, a planning director and two route coordinators. Byars said one of the route coordinators will be in charge of training.
“We have to run water, power and put a fence up,” said Byars. “We also need security cameras.”
The district also needs to put gravel on the ground. Right now, the buses are parked at the vacant General Electric plant on Redmond Circle.
RCS is still hiring bus drivers, and they get benefits
RCS said there are already about 28 bus drivers ready to begin on Jan. 7, but they are still looking for more.
“You can’t ever have too many bus drivers,” said Byars.
He’s hoping to hire at least 30. Bus drivers will be considered full-time employees with health insurance paid by the school board.
According to a job posting on the RCS website, the minimum requirements include a valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or GED and a clear background check.
While there are only 20 routes, Byars said the need for more comes from the possibility of absenteeism and the hope to be able to schedule more field trips.
“Before we only had four buses for field trips,” he said.
“It was first come, first serve,” Dawn Williams, the assistant superintendent agreed.
Starting salary for the full-time position is $12,780 for 5 hours of guaranteed driving time, according to the RCS website.
Parents won’t be able to use the Tripper app to keep up with kids
Byars said parents have not weighed in too much on the change, likely because there aren’t many differences aside from the color of the buses: yellow.
When RTD is done taking the children to school, however, parents won’t be able to use the Tripper app to identify the student bus routes. The Tripper app, a GPS application used by parents to determine stop times, bus routes, and school locations, debuted in July of 2018. The superintendent did say the district is looking at different technology to get there.