Fuel Prices Lead to Changes for Region 8 Schools

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- High costs for school bus routes in Region 8 may lead to some changes starting this fall.  Several schools saw their diesel costs almost double last year, causing their already strained budgets to go deeper into the red.

"We're probably going to budget about $7 a gallon," said

The Greene County School District is just one of many schools in Region 8 making changes based on buses.  They run 43 bus routes and last year were about $45,000 over budget on fuel.  Facilities and Transportation Director Keith Davis said the prices started climbing and never stopped.

"From August of 2007 until May of 2008 our gas prices went up $1.64 a gallon," said Keith Davis.

Valley View Superintendent Radius Baker said with no extra money for the fuel they are having to find ways to work around it.

"We're looking at all possibilities trying to make sure we do the very best that we can and save the most we can as far as diesel costs are concerned," said Baker.

There are multiple things schools are doing to try to save money.

"We'll probably look at not having as many field trips as we do have.  We'll probably double up on some athletic trips," said Baker.

This fuel crunch is even harder on schools with large fleets of buses.  The more buses you have, the more money you have to spend.

That's why Greene County Tech is now planning on using education to try to improve their fuel usage.

The school's east lab students are using GPS equipment to try to make the routes better.

"This summer we're going to GPS each route so we can overlay each route and see if there's a place where we can save millage," said Davis.

These high fuel prices could put another kink in the system.  More kids are expected to be riding the bus this fall because many parents may not be able to drive their kids to school because of the gas prices.

At the Jonesboro School District they use computerized software for their bus routes.  While they shortened routes last year, they are expected to stay the same this year.  They are also buying their fuel in bulk at the best possible prices and doing preventive maintenance.

The Nettleton School District is planning to cut down on some field trips and unnecessary travel.

School officials are also considering playing multiple basketball games in one night to cut their number of trips for travel in half.