As motorists across the nation are faced with soaring gas prices and businesses are feeling the heat as the growing cost of transporting their goods has more than doubled over the last year, Monday night’s meeting of the Stephenville Independent School District proved local schools are also feeling the pain at the pump.
“The fuel budget adopted for the 2007-2008 school year was $120,000,” said Tracy Ray, assistant superintendent for business and finance. “The fuel budget is not going to hold.”
Ray asked the board to consider a budget amendment to transfer existing funds to the fuel budget to the tune of $30,000.
“We hope that this budget amendment will be enough funding to cover the cost of fuel for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends August 31,” Ray said.
For SISD administrators, the problem is simple - summer school, extracurricular activities and one week of the 2008-09 school year will be operating on the current budget.
“There will be a minimum of six buses running every day during summer school,” Ray said. “The 2008-2009 school year begins on August 25 so all regular route buses will be running again for the last five days of the 2007-2008 fiscal year.”
Ray explained that the district has 18 morning/afternoon routes, four mid-day routes and three additional afternoon routes that shuffle students from campus to campus.
“There will be a few extracurricular bus trips prior to September 1 because the volleyball season begins in August and we will have a scrimmage in Weatherford on August 21,” Ray said.
At Monday’s meeting, Ray said that transportation director Tommy Washington recently reported that diesel had increased 46 percent from Oct. 2007 to April 2008. Days later, Ray explained that an update from Washington showed a more drastic increase.
“Yesterday he (Washington) reported another increase that brings the percentage increase to 66 percent since October 2007,” Ray said.
As far as purchasing fuel is concerned, the district will continue in its practice of getting the best deal possible.
“The district takes bids each time a load of fuel is purchased,” Ray explained. “Typically, the bidders are Bailey Fuel, Lucky Lady Oil Co and Love Oil Co. (formally known as Wrinkle Oil Co.)”
Media reports have shown that schools across the nation are faced with the same dilemma as SISD.
“All districts are having to go before their boards in reference to fuel prices,” Ray said.
As the price at the pump continues to increase, so will the toll the high prices have on our local school district.
“The increase in the price of fuel has impacted our current budget and will have a significant impact on the 2008-2009 budget planning process,” Ray said.
The board took only a few seconds to consider the problem before voting unanimously in favor of the amendment, which at least for the time being, will have no affect on the district’s fund balance.