Fuel prices have bus officials wary
By Matthew Burgoyne
Rising gas prices are affecting millions of people across the nation - including the Morgan County School System.
As the price of gasoline and diesel fuel continue to increase, the citizens of Morgan County are feeling the stress on their wallet not only at home, but also in the school system. Everyday, an arsenal of school buses is pumped with fuel to carry Morgan County students to and from school. The fuel for Morgan County buses is provided by Stevens Oil Company. Bob Monk, Director of Operations for the Morgan County School System, deals with this growing problem everyday.
Each year, a budget is approved for the proceeding school year. Within this budget, money is allotted to the transportation of students by bus. “The budget for buses for the 2006-2007 school year was $200,000. The budget for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year is $300,000,” Monk said. On January 1, 2008, the average price of diesel fuel was $2.86 and the average price of gasoline was $3.06. In contrast, on April 11, 2008, the price of diesel was $3.61 and the price of gasoline was $3.69. Both prices increased over $0.60 since the beginning of this year, and this trend is only continuing. Morgan County operates 48 buses with 36 bus routes. The school’s bus budget is based on 400 gallons of fuel per day. With 180 days in the school year, the school system estimates 72,000 gallons of fuel per year, Monk said.
The Morgan County School System has not had to take drastic measures such as cutting back on field trips yet and the topic has not even been addressed in formal discussions. Rising gas prices may be causing the school system to increase its bus budget; however, Monk is in favor of more students using the bus service provided by the school.
“School busing is the safest form of road transportation and the safety of our students is a priority,” Monk said.