Madison County School District purchases buses; cancels lease contract
Madison County Schools students will now be transported by school owned buses with the recent purchase of 125 buses for $10 million. Previously the district had a contract with First Student. “In the past, we have had a contract with First Student,” Dr. Ronnie McGeehee, superintendent of Madison County Schools, said. “The contract was up in June, and we just didn’t renew it.”
First Student’s contract proposal increased significantly in price. The district realized funds could be better spent by buying their own set of buses.
“The contract went up to a little over $8 million per year, and prior to that increase, the contract was (about $6.8 million) per year.”
Twenty years ago, Madison County Schools privatized buses. When the price became prohibitive, McGeehee said, district officials searched for other options.
“We realized we could be better stewards by using 16th section land funds to purchase our own fleet, which will save more than $1 million a year.”
Part of those savings come from not needing to pay rental fees each year, as well as lowered upkeep and maintenance costs on the old buses.
“It’s a big initial investment, but the payout over time will be significant,” McGeehee said. “This is our first time to own rather than contract through a company for use of buses.”
The district will still enter into a contract with Durham School Services to provide drivers and maintenance for the new buses, which will cost around $4 million per year.
“Our buses are all state-of-the-art, including air conditioning on every bus, as well as fish-eye cameras to see between the seats,” said McGeehee. “(Those are) very helpful in seeing small children rather than just the tops of their heads as with traditional cameras that only look down the main aisle of the bus.”
The district’s transportation center, which previously was in Canton, is now located near Germantown.
“So not only are these buses a sound financial investment, they are also adding several safety and comfort features for our students and drivers.”