“I’ve never seen anything escalate this quick,” says Hank Hurd, the Durham district’s chief operating officer. “There’s no way for a school district to absorb those kinds of increases.”
The 2007-08 school year has come to a close, but as superintendents across the country finalize their budgets for the fall, many are projecting major spikes in a number of areas — cafeteria food and heating oil, for example. Perhaps the greatest bump is for diesel, which fuels the yellow buses that bring kids to school in the first place.
Some 475,000 school buses transport 25 million children — more than half of the country’s schoolchildren — each day, and cover 4.3 billion miles a year, says the American School Bus Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbies on behalf of the school-bus industry. And the cost of fueling all these vehicles has a direct impact beyond the bus.
Bowling Green has cut back a teaching position and ordered fewer new textbooks. Pennsylvania’s Palisades School District will start charging kids extra when they go on field trips. The Bellevue district in Nebraska will skip a planned roofing job and defer replacing some old-but-still-functional boilers.