July 8, 2005 – Posted at 5:12 p.m. CDT
CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- The high prices at the pump are keeping some drivers home this summer, but when school is back in session, it could leave buses parked.
School transportation directors across the country are deciding how they will save on fuel this fall, and it could mean cutting school programs.
“The next budget year, we're going to have to allocate increased funding for fuel prices and stuff,” said Westside Superintendent Dr. James Best.
The Westside School District is battling back. They've replaced several gas-powered busses with diesel busses.
“We buy gas in bulk as a lot of schools do and that kind of averages out the dollar cost of gas,” said Dr. Best.
The Brookland School District spent more than $30,000 dollars last year in fuel alone, averaging out to $25.50 per student.
“Those are things you're concerned with, but it's not something that will cause you to panic when it goes up a little high,” said Brookland Superintendent Gene Goza, “If it continues to climb then we may look at where we can cut some things.”
School officials say they haven't considered cutting any programs yet, but if fuel prices continue to rise, it may be an option they'll have to explore.
“There is not a lot of places you can cut without cutting out programs, and I don't want to do that, unless we have to,” said Goza.
“I can see it coming very quickly that we're going to have to consider non conference games and things that are closer to home and have a cheaper cost to participate in,” said Dr. Best.
And while the clock counts down the last minutes of summer vacation, schools are already working on next year.
“Anything that is so critical as transportation and transporting students safely, we're never going to cut costs at the expense of safety,” said Dr. Best, “If it gets down to that point, we'll just bite the bullet and spend the money and we'll try to save it somewhere else.”