City Bus

In this file photo from 2014, East Central Elementary students get on Rome Transit Department buses

Rome City Schools called a board meeting Tuesday evening where they voted to give the superintendent permission to prepare a proposal that will purchase 35 new school buses for the system.

The proposal will be presented to the board during their May board meeting next Tuesday. The board had to agree on a plan during its meeting Tuesday so the city of Rome could inform state and federal agencies about how the system plans to move forward.

The board went into closed session at 4:30 p.m. to discuss potential real estate and came out for a public session at 4:56 p.m. During the public session Superintendent Lou Byars provided the board with three options they can take. The board did not discuss allowing the public to ride on buses with students as a serious option.

The main difference between the options laid out over the weekend and the options presented at Tuesday’s board meeting was the substitution of purchasing used buses to new buses in what was called “Option C.” There were also some updated figures provided by Byars.

Board members decided early on that buying the used Rome Transit Department buses was not an option. Factors in why this option was dismissed include that purchasing the RTD buses would come with handling the mechanical costs that cannot be predicted along with the needed modifications.

This left two options, leasing buses through a third party or purchasing brand new buses. Byars said he is considering two companies to purchase the buses through. The first being Yancey Bus Sales & Service — this is the company Floyd County Schools decided to purchase buses from — and Rush Bus Centers.

With a proposal to purchase new buses in the works the system still needs to find drivers. The board will begin re-certifying city bus drivers who currently do not hold a license to drive a school bus. Neighboring systems such as Floyd and Bartow will help Rome City Schools train their drivers and get them ready for next school year.

“Driver recruitment and training is already underway, and leadership has started working on a way to provide buses that aid in getting students to and from school,” said Byars. “The safety of our students as they travel to and from school is a priority of our system.”

The board also discussed its budget which it will amend to include any transportation costs. The board will hold two open forums for the 2019-2020 budget on May 14 at 5:45 p.m. in the city schools’ board room and on May 15 at 10:30 a.m. at the City of Rome Finance Committee meeting in the Sam King Room.