Rising gas costs are forcing the Columbia County school system to budget more money for diesel fuel for the coming school year.
School buses leave Greenbrier High School. During the 2004-05 school year, about $363,000 was budgeted for fuel and oil for the buses. For the 2005-06 year, the budget will include $500,000 for fuel, as a result of rising prices.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
For the 2005-06 school year, officials are budgeting $500,000 for fuel and oil, an increase of $137,000 compared with 2004-05, said the school system's transportation director, Dewayne Porter.
"I know a lot of school systems are having to budget more," Porter said. "It's really one of those things that you can't predict. Gas prices change every day, it seems."
The lowest diesel price per gallon in the 2004-05 year was $1.16. The system's most recent purchase was $1.66 per gallon.
Porter estimates the system spent $555,000 on fuel and oil during the past school year, greatly overshooting the budget.
Although the school board is giving him more funds for fuel, Porter said he is looking for ways to cut back on fuel consumption to make sure his department does not exceed its budgeted amount.
"Things like idling at the schools," he offered as an example of wasting fuel. "We don't need our folks to be sitting there idling, wasting more and more fuel and putting emissions in the air that don't need to be there. We're going to be cutting those things out to save as much as possible. Every gallon will help us."
In some metro Atlanta school systems, where the cost of diesel was as much as $1.80 per gallon, some systems avoided price fluctuations by locking in a fixed bid.
The Cobb County school system, which locked in a $1.32 per gallon diesel price in October, saved about $400,000, according to a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Greenbrier Elementary School pupils stream onto their buses after classes end. Columbia County currently has a fleet of 201 buses, which generally get about 10 miles per gallon of fuel, according to the school system's transportation director, Dewayne Porter.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Porter said he is looking into a locked bid for fuel costs in Columbia County as well, but he isn't sure the method will work for his fleet of 201 buses, which average about 10 miles per gallon.
"They were dealing in a lot more volume than we are," he said. "That may be the reason they were able to get that rate. It may not be a possibility for us."
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