The Fannin County School District will have four new school buses come July, just in time for the 2012/13 school year. In January, the county pursued bids for new buses. Three companies returned bids for four new, 72-passenger school buses with an air conditioner option. At its March meeting last week, the Board of Education accepted one of the bids for the purchase.
Rush Truck Central, which sells International Buses, submitted a price of $80, 750 with an $8500 air conditioning option; Peach State Truck, which sells Thomas Buses, submitted a price of $80, 737 with a $5947 air conditioning option and Yancey Brother, which sells Blue Bird Buses submitted a price o $78,287 with a $7700 air conditioning option.
Filling in for Transportation Director Benny Long, Superintendent Mark Henson explained that although Blue Bird was the cheapest bus on the list, it did not meet the bid specifications required by the county, such as front axle capacity. If it were “brought up to specs,” based on the bid, Henson continued, it would no longer be the cheapest bus on the list. Henson said Mr. Long had investigated the matter and assured Henson this was the case.
Henson said the county test drove a Thomas Demo Bus and a Thomas from Cherokee County.
“We had our mechanics take it out, (and) several of our drivers take it out, and they felt very strongly that it was a very good bus,”
he said, adding, visibility on the vehicle was good and that it was quiet. He also said the Thomas has a Cumming Turbo Diesel engine, of which the mechanics are very familiar.
As such, Superintendent Henson recommended the board approve to purchase four, 72-passenger buses from Peach State Truck at $86,684 per bus, for a total of $346,736. This price includes the air conditioning option. When Board Chairperson Sandra Mercier asked about cameras, Henson said the buses will have cameras and that they will be installed by Fannin County, which, he said, would lower the cost of installation.
The superintendent also explained the money to purchase the buses will come from SPLOST (Special Option Sales Tax) funds. Henson said that the buses will not be delivered until July. The reason for this, he noted, is the county can
“space that SPLOST money out, to make sure we got a positive cash flow coming in, because…we certainly don’t want to bond any money at this point,”
he said. Unless the buses are delivered with a defect, Henson assured the board the buses would be running for the 2012/13 school year starting in August.
NOTE: The buses featured in the photo are not the actual buses purchased.