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High gas prices leave school administrators looking to adjust their budgets

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets
Posted at 2:59 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 18:26:19-04

SHIOCTON (NBC 26) — High gas prices - that is all many people are talking about these days and it's no secret it's probably impacting your wallet, too.

For the School District of Shiocton, the latest rise in gas is causing problems for district administrators as they try to figure out transportation costs into their budgets.

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets

"It's a great deal more than what we budgeted,” said Nichole Schweitzer, District Administrator for the School District of Shiocton.

Schweitzer said these last few months have been a headache.

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets

"We're paying an extra $150 or more a day. So it's averaging close to about $750 to $800 a week due to the rising cost of fuel and that's just for our am and pm routes,” Schweitzer said.

That huge hit is due to the escalator clause the district has in their contract with the family-owned school bus company they work with. That is what triggers higher costs.

Each day their buses travel more than the distance of a trip from Green Bay to Chicago.

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets
Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets

"We are very rural, traveling well over 450 to 470 miles on any given day to and from school,” Schweitzer said.

Student transportation is not the only sector feeling the effect of increased fuel costs, but their village public works department is also facing these same challenges.

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets

"We take care of anything the village owns,” said Dan Conrad, Director of Public Works for the Village of Shiocton.

Shiocton Department of Public Works said its operating costs have nearly doubled, with lawn mower costs and garbage trucks being their biggest expenses.

"We have two fuel tanks here at the plant. We had them both filled up and it cost us a thousand dollars more to fill them up,” Conrad said.

Also in Oshkosh their DPW crews say they're also worried about what this could mean for their budget.

Gas prices leave school administrators looking to fit transportation costs into their budgets

"Certainly very concerned about the budget impacts on our organization,” said James Rabee, Oshkosh Director of Public Works.

Rabee said their department fuels the entirety of the city's vehicle fleet with the exception of their transit buses. With so much to account for, costs have about doubled for their department.

"It’s not like we can stop doing our services, so we have to try to find other ways to minimize our usage or have some savings in other parts of the department,” Rabee said.

It’s a new reality that leaders in many organizations are facing because every dollar that goes into the gas tank could be one less going into other budget items.

High gas prices leave school administrators looking to adjust their budgets

Back at the School District of Shiocton, administrators said until the prices go down, they will need to do some creative funding and be flexible.

"It might mean we have to put off a rotation for maybe our floors or maybe wait on carpeting for another year. Or maybe we wait on uniforms. Maybe we have to wait for a larger field trip that maybe we were taking to Chicago but now we go to Milwaukee,” Schweitzer said.

She reassured parents that no matter what happens, they can count on the district to do all they can to make sure their children are being afforded a great education.

NBC 26 also spoke with Chad Jensema, the Director of Transportation for the Green Bay Area School District, to see how things were looking like there.

This is what he had to say:

"The Green Bay Area Public School District works with two vendors for their yellow bus services, Lamers Bus Lines and First Student. In our current contract, we have a fuel escalator clause in place to help share with the fuel costs when it rises over the vendor's contracted base price. Student transportation is also provided through the use of District vans and we continually work to be as efficient as possible in order to keep gas consumption to a minimum not only in these times of soaring fuel prices but whenever we are providing transportation services."
Chad Jensema, the Director of Transportation for the Green Bay Area School District