Local News

Wake Schools Estimate Extra $1M In Spending At Gas Pump

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School Bus Fleet
RALEIGH, N.C. — John Floyd considered just putting a few gallons of gas in his car, hoping that when he traveled east, he would find a cheaper price.

"It's getting tougher and tougher every day," Floyd said.

  • As a self-employed salesman, Floyd drives 40,000 miles a year. His budget is exploding for one car.

    Now, try to imagine a fuel budget involving a fleet of 743 buses using roughly 2 million gallons of gas a year.

    The school system estimates it will spend $1 million more on gas this year. On top of that, the system faces another $1 million increase if Progress Energy invokes a proposed rate hike.

    Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Bill McNeal admits the extra cost is going to get tough. He says the school system hopes to work within existing budgets, but could consider cutting programs or looking beyond its budget for relief.

    "We may have to ask beyond that for the county to help us," McNeal said. "We don't know the answer to that until we see how deep the hole we find ourselves in."

    County leaders say they are prepared to respond if gas prices become a crisis, but they fully expect the school system and other departments to adjust.

    "We'll have to manage within the budget the best we can, just like a family does," said County Commission Chairman Joe Bryan.

    Bryan hopes the school system will look at its general fund before it asks for money from Wake County's general fund.

    "There is no free money sitting out there in the county's budget -- or yours or my budget," he said.

    McNeal says its fuel budget will not run dry overnight, so right now, the priority is getting schools open. He says the system will have a much better idea on how it will handle the increase in gas prices in about a month.