Fuel prices are continuing their upward spin. Petroleum analysts say prices are averaging almost $4.00 dollars a gallon today.
Gas prices are impacting the school transportation systems. The Wichita Falls Independent School District is reworking its budget to meet the costs of these fuel expenses. Their Chief Financial Officer Tim Turner says, "Certainly high fuel prices impact everyone, and they impact the school district as well. We are projecting to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 to $600,000 in fuel purchases in a year's time for all our different fuels. So it is a big ticket item for us".
The Durham transportation company for the school is in charge of the drivers, maintenance, and insurance. However, the WFISD is responsible for the gas expenses. Turner says, "I feel prices have increased significantly over last year. We purchase both diesel and gasoline. But the diesel prices have been the most significant increase for us". He says the prices have gone up almost $0.50 a gallon on average over last year's average purchase price. And that it's been a significant increase in the purchase price of the fuel they use for their bus fleets.
Turner says, "We felt like the prices would be escalating, once the economy started coming back around. And so we did put some provision for an increase in our budget. We will be over budget at this point in time." The administration is evaluating certain after school routes and will be potentially eliminating some. Turner says this will help reduce the demand on fuel.
As a district in union with the Budget Action Committee, they are considering not having as many evening runs taking kids home after extracurricular activities. That is on the table now, and is being considered for the next school year. Turner says, "Next year's budget will not be adopted until August. We have a few months to work through it. I plan and make sure we will be able to accommodate all these costs". School leaders say almost 5,000 kids ride the buses in the mornings. The administration says it's using surplus from some areas of the budget to cover fuel prices.
Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick Dehaan says gas prices in Texas are about $1.00 per gallon higher than last year. The administration says what will be a challenge is to ensure they will be able to cover fuel costs next year.