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School districts struggle with gas prices
schoolbus_100.jpg
Published 31 May 2008 by One News Now (original article)

Schools across the country are looking for ways to economize on their fuel bills. In Minnesota, one school district will be moving to a four-day school week. Mississippi's athletes will be traveling to fewer games. Every little bit counts as administrators seek to balance programs and the rising cost of busing.

Published 31 May 2008 by One News Now, http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=126428

[This is an EXCERPT: read the whole article here. High fuel prices are also sparking student reactions: for example, students in three separate towns in Alabama are biking or walking to school rather than driving. Another article points out that "big box" trends in new-school development contribute to these costs. -Ed.]

"[A Minnesota school] district west of Minneapolis plans to eliminate classes every Monday to come up with the extra $65,000 it needs to fill its buses' tanks. 'I know $65,000 may not sound like a lot, but it's more than one teaching position,' said Greg Schmidt, the superintendent in the 700-student MACCRAY district. And in North Carolina, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools teachers have scaled back the number of field trips this spring to save fuel, transportation director Binford Sloan said."

"Schmidt said most of the feedback to the plan to cut back to a four-day school week in his district, which covers the towns of Maynard, Clara City and Raymond, has been positive, although he said he realizes it will inconvenience those parents who will have to find child care on Mondays. The change will mean students will attend 23 fewer days of school a year, and the length of the regular school day will be extended by a little more than an hour to compensate. 'I think the parents, most of them are supportive because they understand our situation,' Schmidt said.

"Not every cost-saving measure has been so draconian. Drivers in the Fairport Central School District outside of Rochester, N.Y., have been instructed to not make special trips back to schools if students forget their coats or lunches on their morning rides, said superintendent Jon Hunter... Drivers instead are returning to the bus depot and using a smaller vehicle to ferry the item to the student's school.

"This month, the Mississippi High School Activities Association approved a plan to cut the number of varsity games by 10 percent beginning this fall for all sports except football. The districts will save by driving their basketball, softball and baseball teams to three fewer games a season, said Booneville, Miss., schools superintendent Rickey Neaves. 'When you take into account the number of buses you have to go to a game and the mileage, it mounts up pretty quick,' Neaves said."

Photo credit: Cory Voglesonger

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