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The rising cost of fuel (gas and diesel fuel) has already caused the Shelby County Board of Education to increase the fuel portion of its transportation budget by 25 percent for the 2005-06 school year and to increase the participation fee for field trips from 75 cents to $1 per mile.
According to Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major, most school buses run on diesel fuel.
He said in July 2005, the cost to the school system of diesel fuel and gasoline was $1.78 and $1.91 per gallon, respectively.
By July 12, he said, diesel had risen to $1.92 per gallon while gasoline had risen to $1.84 per gallon.
By Aug. 8, the last time the school system ordered a shipment of fuel, the price for diesel fuel was $1.99 per gallon and gasoline was $2.09 per gallon.
To put things into perspective, Major said, in May 2004, diesel fuel was $1.51 per gallon while gasoline was $1.21 per gallon.
Major said as of Aug. 23, the school system transported 13,000 students on bus routes covering 11,000 miles per day.
He said that represents 53 percent of the student population riding on buses, which is above the state average of 48 percent.
Major said the school system operates 274 buses at present. He said six new routes or buses have been added since the start of school this August for a total of well over 270 bus routes.
Major said school system officials planned to observe the cost of fuel for the next few weeks and if it continues to rise, the participation fee for field trips taken on school buses may be increased to $1.25