By Megan Horsington
As fuel prices continue to rise in Central New York, extra measures are being taken by School Districts and Highway Departments, which depend heavily on diesel-fueled vehicles and machinery, to ensure that budgets are met without having to cut corners.
The market price of diesel fuel is currently hovering at close to five dollars per gallon and is projected to rise continuously in the coming months. According to Anthony Carnevale, Assistant Superintendent for Business in Marcellus, the Marcellus School District is one of the lucky few that managed to budget enough money for the 2007-2008 school year to accommodate the hike in fuel prices. In fact, he shares "we anticipate a small surplus in our budget fuel line." He adds, however, that "for 2008-2009, we have budgeted increased dollars for fuel." The fuel prices will continue to rise, and the School District clearly intends to be financially prepared to handle the increase.
According to Carnevale the School District has also looked into integrating hybrid or natural gas busses to replace the standard school buses currently used to transport students. At the present time, no plans have been made to implement new vehicles for the 2008-2009 school year.
Skaneateles Superintendent of Schools Philip D'Angelo has been diligent in his quest for finding the most fuel-efficient options for the school bus system in Skaneateles without sacrificing educational activities and sporting events for students.
"We do value letting kids leave campus," D'Angelo explains, declaring his desire to continue to accommodate field trips and athletic games and scrimmages that supplement students' in-school educational experience. His ultimate goal is to devise ways to keep these activities possible "without overtaking the fuel budget."
D'Angelo and other School District workers have spent a great deal of time researching alternatives to the school buses that are currently in operation. Buses that run on natural gas are a logical option, but the benefits of the decrease in spending on fuel for such vehicles are outweighed by other problems that might occur. For example, while a natural gas vehicle would get better gas mileage than a standard school bus, fueling stations for these vehicles are not nearly as widespread as ordinary gas stations. If a natural gas bus were to run out of fuel during an outing, it would be much less likely to have access to a refueling location.