Rome City Schools closed on the land to park its fleet of 55 school buses Wednesday.

Along with this, the system purchased an office trailer that will house Rome City Schools’ transportation offices. Superintendent Lou Byars said the offices will house the transportation director, the planning director and two route coordinators.

According to Director of School Improvement Tim Williams, the site is on a 32-acre plot of land on Three Rivers Drive across from Rome Middle and High schools.

The land was purchased for $1.15 million. Byars estimated the bus plot would be ready for the buses and facilities by the end of January. As of now, the new buses are still set to debut on Jan. 7 but are currently parked at the closed General Electric plant on Redmond Circle.

So far, the cost of the entire project — including the buses — has a tab of close to $5 million dollars. They already have 20 buses and will be adding 35 new buses to that fleet. The total cost of purchasing the new buses was approximately $3.4 million, Byars said.

Some of that cost has come with hiring bus drivers. The new bus drivers have a starting salary of $12,780 for one year of bus driving experience. Byars said the district has hired about 28 bus drivers, but they would like to add more.

The school system purchased new school buses after an audit from the Department of Transportation stated that Rome City Transit buses could no longer transport the students.

The change ended a 35-year agreement between the city and the school district, for which RCS paid $1.4 million annually.

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