School officials could consider new transportation director

By Jeffery Whitfield

School officials are expected to consider naming a director of transportation for the Clayton County School System in December, according to Jackie Hubbert, assistant superintendent of human resources.

“From a human resources standpoint, we'll probably bring a director transportation before the {Clayton County} Board of Education in December,” she said.

Once a new director is named, that person would replace Ronnie Blake, who is retiring. Blake is serving on an interim basis as director until a new one is found.

The director is responsible for transporting children to and from school and for the maintenance of all school system vehicles.

A new director also would consider issues such as purchasing a new fuel tank.

The school system's operations committee considered purchasing a new 30,000 gallon tank on Tuesday, but opted to wait until a new director was in place before making a final decision. The committee will consider the issue again at their next meeting on Dec. 13.

Committee approval of the purchase is required before the full board can vote on the issue.

The new tank would boost the school system's capacity to store fuel for its bus fleet. The system now has a storage capacity of 18,000 gallons and uses 5,000 gallons each day.

“My opinion is that we wait for a (new) director of transportation to give a recommendation,” said District 1 Board member Latoya Walker, who chairs the committee.

Walker also said she hoped that the process of awarding bids could be done on a more competitive basis.

Blake had recommended the committee award the work to MECO, a Louisiana-based firm, for $130,000. Three firms submitted bids for the replacing the fuel tank. MEKO Inc. has previously worked with the school system to install fuel tanks.

Funding for a tank purchase could come from the school system's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, Blake said.

Naming a firm to install the tank is critical, because school systems across Georgia likely would be upgrading their systems as state mandated fuel standards go into effect on July 1, 2006, Blake said. School systems would be required to use ultra low sulfur fuel for buses on that date. Clayton County school buses already use the fuel.

“My only concern is time,” said Blake. Delaying a purchase decision could force school officials to wait to acquire additional capacity, he said.

“[The tank] is going to take four months to install,” he said.

If school officials opt to purchase a tank, it would boost storage capacity of six days, Blake said.

School officials now have enough storage capacity to operate its bus fleet for three days and receive 7,600 gallons every other day from a supplier.

In the event of a fuel shortage, school officials use a fuel conservation plan. In October school officials faced a fuel delivery problem and had to reduce bus transportation to athletic trips.