September 20, 2008

Some Schools Cut Back on Bus Routes

By Angela Smith/St Joe Now

Not only are prices at the pump affecting adults and their pocketbooks, but now school bus route cuts could create obstacles getting children to school.

Linda Bishop, manager of First Student (formerly Laidlaw Transit), said many surrounding school districts are cutting fuel costs. That means greatly reducing trips made by school buses.

While it doesn't currently affect the St. Joseph School District, Buchanan County (Mo.) R-IV School District, which includes schools in DeKalb and Rushville, will cut back on expenses. Superintendent Lane Novinger said they plan to reduce field trips by half.

"Fuel prices are really hurting us," Mr. Novinger said. "We would move to a four-day week if we could."

Nationwide, states such as California, Ohio, Florida and Washington all are cutting back school bus use because of higher expenses. According to the Dayton Daily News, Dayton, Ohio, district officials are not providing any bus service, which forces students to find their own way to school. And according to The Daily Green, an environmental Web site, Seattle school officials are asking students to walk farther to their bus stops.

The nationwide average price of diesel fuel, which is what some buses run on, is $4.64 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. AAA reports that prices range from $4.61 to $4.69 per gallon in St. Joseph.

Ms. Bishop said with fuel prices still rising, many more area districts could tighten their budgets.

"If fuel continues to rise, anything is fair game," she said.

Angela Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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