Rising fuel costs hit schools hard

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rising operating costs including fuel has forced the Shelby County School Board to increase the amount charged to field trip sponsors by the board from 75 cents per mile to $1 per mile.

And School Superintendent Evan Major has warned he may be back asking for more.

At the board’s July 7 regular meeting, Major said it had been so long, he could not remember when the cost per mile for field trips was increased from 50 cents per mile to 75 cents.

He cited increasing prices of oil as one reason for the price hike.

While school buses run mostly on diesel fuel instead of gasoline, Major noted that the cost of gasoline had risen from $2.14 per gallon from the time he had breakfast on July 7 to $2.27 cents per gallon by lunch. And, that, he noted, was an increase of nearly 14 cents per gallon in only a few hours.

Major said the current cost for school bus fuel (diesel fuel) to the school system is $1.82 cent per gallon.

&uot;We checked with other school systems (on the cost for field trips). One has gone to $1.50,&uot; he said.

Major said Shelby County Schools were probably &uot;late&uot; in going up on the price and that he may be back later &uot;asking we go up again.&uot;

Transportation Coordinator Jerry Davidson said in the past five years, the cost per gallon for diesel fuel has risen from 80 cents to $1.82.

He said the Shelby County School System operates 302 buses with 272 on regular routes traveling 13,900 miles per day.

According to information provided by the school board during the past five years, costs have increased as follows: 22 percent for oil, 12 percent for tires, 128 percent for fuel, 22 percent for service and 21 percent for insurance. The figures did not include costs for parts and labor for normal wear such as brakes, fluids, steering parts, belts, hoses, interior covers, etc.

Davidson anticipates the budget for transportation will increase from $175,000 in 2005 to $250,000 for 2006, a hike of about $75,000.

In a transportation-related matter, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Tom Ferguson reported the results of a state school board inspection of Shelby County School buses with positive results for Shelby County Schools.

He said the standard set by the state is that there be no more than a 24 percent deficiency. The result for Shelby County was a 1.9 deficiency, which is the &uot;best we’ve had,&uot; he said.

Ferguson said for Shelby County Schools that meant five buses were deficient. But, he said the school system could have had 72 buses found deficient and still have met the standard.

The vote to increase the mileage cost for field trips was unanimous in the absence of board vice president Steve Martin