Meridian school district purchases buses

by Hannah Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

Three years ago, the school board decided to hire their own bus drivers and have their own bus transportation services. Originally, these buses were leased, but in July, the Meridian School Board purchased fifteen buses.

“In about five years we’ll own some of those buses, so we won’t have that payment at all. That will save us about fifty thousand dollars each year after five years,” said Superintendent Brue. “After eight years, the new buses will be paid off and then we will have to decide whether to trade some in for new products.”

They bought seven of the buses that were originally leased and purchased an additional eight 2019 Thomas Safety Liner buses, financed through the Peoples Bank of Macon in yearly payments. To lease a bus is about ten thousand dollars more than to buy one.

“It’s new, it’s a lot different than what we had before. You have to learn each bus, the 2016 and the 2019 is like you can go buy a new car. They have new gadgets in them,” said Paula Ray, Transportation Director. “There’s buttons in different places. You have to decipher the two different ones. If a driver has a question, you need to know.”

“I just like driving the bus. They are much nicer buses than we have ever had before, and that makes a big difference on liking to drive the buses the school district owns,” said Connie Black, a bus driver at Meridian for sixteen years. “They [other bus drivers] were all excited. Everybody was excited about the new buses because of their reliability. Not having to worry about how far they were going to make it with them.”

There has been some educational and technology gains in the wake of the purchases. Two Restorative Justice Coordinators and new chrome books have been added to the district, as well as a shorter bus that holds up to fourteen people (used when small groups like golf or cheerleaders need to travel).

The Meridian School District used to spend about one million dollars a year in transportation services. The district now spends about six hundred thousand dollars a year, a savings that’s allowing the district to make positive changes.