Local News

Smaller School Districts Trying To Cope With Higher Gas Prices

Posted March 22, 2005 6:41 a.m. EST

— Right now, Wake County schools spend about $22,000 a day on gas.

Larger districts, like Wake, will shift money from one budget to another to help with the increase in gas prices.

It's a little tougher to do that in small school districts.

The Harnett County School System, like so many others, is gearing up for gas prices to go even higher.

For more than two years, the school's had a no- idling policy. When the children load and unload from the buses there is less exposure to diesel fumes. It's a recommendation from the state.

With the rising price of gas, it's now mandatory at every school in the county, not only for health reasons, but for money matters.

The district is also shifting some routes. No longer will two buses from the same school go down the same rural road.

"If we save 10 miles it adds up over 180 days and over years," said Ronnie McDonald, transportation director. "Any savings would be a savings."

The savings probably won't help students. Principal Joan Lanier says the price of field trips is likely to go up for every child.

At the same time, the number of trips could go down.

"Some classes take two or three a year. We may have to start making some choices about the one that is very important to the children," Lanier said.

For the most part though, the buses will keep rolling, even if the price at the pumps is sky high.

Other small districts like Chatham and Hoke Counties say they are not taking any drastic measures at this point.

Chatham says it will stop keeping parts on hand to free up some extra money.