QUITMAN -- The Brooks County Board of Education approved buying four new school buses and selling eight used buses during its scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

A motion was approved to purchase four new buses from Thomas Freight Liner. There were two sets of bids taken, said John Leddington, transportation director. One was for the state minimum specifications, and the other bid was compiled by Leddington.

The first bid was for the minimum specifications set for buses by the state, but the lowest bid isn't almost the best and would end up costing the county more money, Leddington said.

The original cost with the bare minimum state specification was listed as $49,584 for each bus. Leddington's bid for $53,149 is for buses that exceed the minimum state specifications and will provide buses with a longer road life, he said.

The board approved the bid with Leddington's specification.

A motion was approved to sell eight buses on about July 31. Four of the buses don't work, but Leddington has already been contacted by perspective bus dealers who believe they can repair them. The remaining four buses are in good condition and have served their usefulness to Brooks County. Three are 87 models and the other is an 88 model. They served 10 years on route and five years as spare buses.

"We got 15 years out of them -- that's a good return on investments," Leddington said.

Other business

During an open forum, Mike Smith, director of 911 and a local Georgia Emergency Management Agency official, spoke to the school board about ways to improve safety issues within the county school system. Smith has been in contact with Superintendent Debra Folsom and GEMA officials on how to address school safety issues. There have also been meetings with law enforcement and public safety officials.

One of the results from the meetings is the creation of a school safety committee, Smith said. There are plans for school staff to attend professional learning training with GEMA, Folsom said.

Another idea is to have public safety actually seen on the campus as well as the parking lots, and this includes having a School Resource Officer in the lunch rooms.

A motion was approved for a certified pay raise of about 2 percent that goes into effect for full-time employees in July. Ten-month employees will receive their raise in September.

A motion was approved for a new position known as a school/community relations specialist that would start in September. The position will be full-time position and start off with a beginning teacher's salary, Folsom said.

The position will be locally funded.

The position is expected to help improve communications between the parents, the school and the community.

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