It doesn't look like rising fuel costs are about to force any drastic changes yet in Wake's school transportation policies.
As noted in today's article, Wake could lose $4.7 million due to the state Board of Education potentially having to make up a $50 million shortfall in funding for fuel and teacher bonuses.
Wake's fuel budget has increased from $5 million in 2006-07 to $7.2 million this fiscal year. It's not surprising considering Wake is now paying $4 per gallon for diesel compared to $2.13 per gallon in June 2007.
But Wake, publicly at least, isn't going to the steps that some other districts are taking.
Johnston County is asking schools to consider cutting back on field trips. Athletic directors are being asked to limit the number of games being played against teams from outside the county.
Orange County has formed a committee to look at ways to reduce costs. Mike Gilbrert, an Orange County schools' spokesman, said he's had to explain to parents that state law prevents them from going to a four-day school week.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg has floated some fairly drastic cutbacks affecting magnet students. For instance, ideas that have been mentioned include not providing buses to magnet students who live within five or 10 miles of a magnet school.
in Wake, no such drastic measures are being contemplated. Don Haydon, the school district's chief facilities and operations officer, said they've already taken steps to reduce costs such as limiting idling of buses.
"We've been conserving fuel and looking for savings all along," Haydon said.
The savings don't apparently include reducing busing options for magnet students or limiting busing of students for diversity. (To be fair, Wake has reduced busing for some magnet students over the years by increasing the use of express busing.)
Kevin Hill, vice chairman of the school board, said the diversity policy is something worth trying to hold on to for as long as possible. He said he didn't know how high fuel costs would have to get before it became impractical.
One exception was Ron Margiotta. He argued that the rising costs mean that some changes are needed to reduce bus routes.
"Fuel prices aren't getting any cheaper," Margiotta said at Monday's board meeting.