Higher price fuel forces schools, towns to adjust

By Allison Gibbons

With crude oil prices continuing to skyrocket at more than $120 a barrel and fuel prices in New York averaging $4.17 and $5.10 a gallon for gas and diesel respectively, local school districts and municipalities are already making plans on how to cope with the rapidly escalating costs.

Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent Corliss Kaiser said the district has been able to manage fuel costs throughout the school year. When the budget was created last fall, the district calculated an increase of 6.5 percent for fuel costs in this year's budget.

The school district has already taken other steps in the past to reduce costs. Kaiser said the district is part of a consortium for energy purchase, where it buys fuel with other school districts to reduce cost. She said the district uses an energy efficiency program, which includes a computer system monitoring the temperatures in the buildings. The goal is to be "always as efficient as we can be," she said.

Looking to the future, Kaiser said the district will continue to look at alternative energy choices, consolidating bus trips is being considered. Because of everything going on in Albany at the moment, it is difficult to anticipate what next year's budget will look like, Kaiser said.

"Everything is on the table depending on what happens," she said.

East-Syracuse Minoa also said the district was prepared for the high prices.

"We pretty much knew the fuel costs Our budget shortfall hasn't been too bad," said Diane Watkins, transportation supervisor.

She said the district has always been very good about scrutinizing the need for field trips in terms of their educational value; now they also weigh in whether there is a comparable site closer to the district. Watkins said ES-M has long followed the states "no idling" policy for buses, which also saves on gas costs.

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