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School buses try to keep rolling, in spite of fuel shortage

Posted September 16, 2008
Updated September 18, 2008

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— Schools across North Carolina are having trouble finding fuel for buses – at any price. Hurricane Ike temporarily shut down oil refining along the Gulf of Mexico, a major supply for school systems in the state.

State education leaders say they are pressuring suppliers to get fuel to bus depots so students can get to class.

"We just don't have the production coming to us that we would on a normal basis,” said Derek Graham, chief of the Transportation Services Section in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Missing regular supply runs, and with some systems having just a couple days in reserves, schools in Charlotte canceled extra-curricular trips. Other school leaders are considering giving students a few days off.

"We don't like to be running things that close when we don't know where our next tanker load is coming from,” Graham said.

In a video conference with education officials across the state, Graham outlined another plan of attack that includes looking beyond contracted vendors to buy local dealers.

According to Graham, one school system that had been running low was Johnston County. It had a day or so left in the tank before fuel trucks recently made it there.

"We are doing very well,” Johnston County Schools public information officer Terri Sessoms said.

Another big help was when transportation officials re-worked bus routes to make them more efficient.

"Getting more kids to school with fewer buses" was necessary with such low fuel supplies, Sessoms said.

Fuel budgets might not recover as well. Hurricane Ike sent the price of fuel soaring.

"We will have to scramble to see if there is some sources of funding to take care of it,” Graham said.

Durham County schools said they are doing well with their fuel supplies. Wake County schools are said to be doing OK, too. The district increased its storage capacity after fuel-shortage scares during Hurricane Katrina.

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  • manofjustice Sep 17, 2008

    Speaking of prisons chrisbca...I agree with you. I think if prisoners were tired enough they would have time to form gangs. After towing the buses which would save a lot in gas, they would be too tired to fight or flight...lol. Also, the glamour of American prisons would deter a lot of illegal aliens from committing crimes. Right now our prisoners are way better than their living conditions.

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Sep 17, 2008

    Well, they could try alternative energy. Wind could be difficult and that would be a lot of canvas to maintain. Methane is a possibility as this is the capital and we also have the local governments as well as academia in the universities. Water, well we're on water restriction so that's out. Propane or natural gas is a possibility, UPS uses it in some trucks. I'd love to see the protests over nuclear buses. last but not least is make all the prisoners, including illegals, tow the buses in a harness like a sled dog team. That would certainly take the glory away for some of these thugs in our prison system. Inbetween they could pick up trash on their bus route. Problem solved wake county!

  • manofjustice Sep 17, 2008

    I think that the buses should take the kids to school and the parents/guardians to work. Let the buses become partly like city buses but with ID passes for students.

  • colliedave Sep 17, 2008

    Stop bussing students across the county and let them to to the nearest school. That would save on fuel. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The number of failing students has not changed one whit! All the school board has done is to "shuffle the deck" so there are no failing schools.

    If the WCPSS board really cared "for the children" they would see that each child went to school closest to her home. If the school needed resoources to help those not testing at grade level they could use the money spent busing to help the school.

  • TheAdmiral Sep 17, 2008

    "The Admiral, under your plan what happens to the students who live between two and five from their schools?"

    If you really have to ask - then your thinking is somewhere on the edges of one way or the other with no area in the middle.

  • TheAdmiral Sep 17, 2008

    "I don't agree that bussing is the problem. It is where they are being bussed to that "gouges" the schools expense."

    Circular Argument Error - System Crash.

  • Proud2BUS Citizen Sep 17, 2008

    Check this link out concerning 4 day school weeks

    http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/?i=54858

  • GWALLY Sep 17, 2008

    Take it from the central office.....they have way to much staff!!!

  • Mommyoftwo Sep 17, 2008

    Mandy Picketts - The free lunches you speak of are actually federal dollars that Child Nutrition (CNS) receives. CNS is considered an Enterprise Fund within the School System and therefore has very different funding than the rest of the departments. The higher number of free and reduced lunches that is determined, more federal money in the form of grants and other payments.

    While the Free and Reduced lunches do have requirements to be met, some people do know ways around those. Unfortunately you can't just switch from CNS to other areas.

    The fuel shortage is an issue for everyone and this long-distance bussing is ridiculous. I feel sorry for the parents that can't go to plays their child is in because they can't get there! WCPSS may be providing transportation for the child to be 15 miles away from home but when it comes to parent involvement, that is a bigger problem.

  • familyfour Sep 17, 2008

    I don't agree that bussing is the problem. It is where they are being bussed to that "gouges" the schools expense.

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