Supervisors discuss bus turnarounds

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

During Wednesday’s Pearl River County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board discussed ways to cut expenses involved in the construction of school bus turnarounds.

Board President Sandy Kane Smith said the county spends a lot of money in the construction of bus turnarounds and needs to work with school districts to come up with a solution to cut those costs.

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Smith said he feels a school bus turnaround is typically classified as the end of a public road, since there is nowhere for the bus to go other than turn around.

District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said the best solution would be for the county and school districts to split the costs, with the county covering the labor involved and the districts paying for the materials.

Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said the county is involved in the process of approving a request for a turnaround, so if the costs need to be reduced, the county can deny the request.

Lumpkin said his District has 30 bus turnarounds, of which 28 are on public roads.

Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said the reason the Board does not deny bus turnaround requests is because they understand the district submitted the request to ensure the safety of the children.

“You think we will make the decision and we think you will make it,” Holliday told Lumpkin.

Lumpkin said although the safety of the children is the District’s main concern, the decision to establish a bus turnaround should be a balance between finances, safety and the time involved.

Pearl River County School District Transportation Director Lisa Beech said the District considers the wear and tear on the buses and the additional time involved in going down the route.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the county spends between $100,000-$200,000 on school bus turnarounds annually.

He said the county has about 130 bus turnarounds and the Board approves whatever request the school district sends.

The purpose of calling school district representatives to the meeting was to see if some of the turnarounds could be eliminated so that the county can use those funds to maintain public roads, Lumpkin said.

Betty Jo Peterson, transportation director for Picayune School District, suggested the Board establish eligibility guidelines for bus turnarounds.

Alan Lumpkin suggested the Board determine a budget for bus turnarounds so the districts can find a way to stay within that funding level.

For more about the meeting, see Friday’s edition of the Item.