Consolidating banking business recommended

By Greg Gelpi

A committee is recommending that the school system consolidate its banking in an effort to save money.

The Financial/Budget Committee of the Clayton County Board of Education reviewed bids for school buses and the system's banking Tuesday.

Lee Davis, the school system's chief financial officer, suggested that the committee recommend RBC Centura for the system's banking. The committee accepted the recommendation.

"If you look at the numbers, they by far have the best bid," Davis said of the bank that ranks in the top 10 financial institutions in the country. "We've had some problems with them in the past, but no more, no less than any other bank."

The school system has an average daily balance of about $39.7 million, which is currently spread among SunTrust, Bank of America, RBC Centura, Heritage and Wachovia, Davis said.

SunTrust, Bank of America, RBC Centura, SouthTrust and Wachovia submitted bids, but Davis said RBC's bid was financially better than the other banks.

Based on the RBC bid, the school system would earn $444,640 for one year of interest. The next closest bid was SouthTrust, which would have earned the system about $363,771.49, about $80,000 less.

"I'm not even going to pretend to know," board member Carol Kellam said of all the numbers. "Make it as simple as you possibly can for me."

Board member LaToya Walker, formerly of SouthTrust, is the only board member with a finance background.

In addition, RBC's bid offers interest on 100 percent of the system's deposits, with no minimum balance needed to collect the interest.

Also, there would be no charges on the account, regardless of the balance, meaning the school system would have free banking. School system employees would also receive free checking through RBC.

Although the school system bid out its banking, individual schools would still be able to keep their money in banks of their choice.

RBC also offered an incentive to any school that partnered with RBC. The bank would give $500 to schools that form a partnership.

Under a 100-point scoring table designed by the school system, the system graded the banks based on five factors.

RBC scored a 95. The other scores were SouthTrust with a 30.1, SunTrust with a 29.8, Wachovia with a 29.8 and Bank of America with a 29.3.

The committee also accepted the recommendation of Assistant Superintendent Ronnie Blake for the purchase of school buses.

Blake recommended the low bid from Atlanta Freightliner. There were three bids.

Atlanta Freightliner bid lower on each of the three bus specifications the school system requested bids on.

The school system wants to buy 15 72-passenger buses, five 48-passenger buses and five 48-passenger buses with lifts. The total for the purchases through Atlanta Freightliner would be $1,498,045.

Funding for the buses would come from about $500,000 from the state and the rest from local revenue collected from the special purpose local option sales tax.

The board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider the school bus bid. If the school system approves a bid this month, the buses will be ready for the first day of school in August.

The banking bid will be considered at the board's regular business meeting Feb. 2.