School Districts Pinched at Pump

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It's Mike Tingle's responsibility to keep the buses in the Newton County School District running. As transportation director, it's his job to make sure they all have enough fuel to make their rounds.

"We got it pretty well knocked down on a schedule. Some use more than others," Tingle said.

Even the best of the buses only get about seven miles to the gallon. And after running their routes in the morning and again in the afternoon, they have to be refueled about every three days. That quickly runs into a lot of fuel and a lot of cash.

As prices for diesel fuel rise, school officials say it's putting a real cramp in cash flow.

"So what it has done to my transportation budget, is blow it," said Superintendent Billy Pierce.

Pierce says the fuel budget is almost double what it was a year ago and almost forty percent more than originally planned. The district has money in its reserves to cover it, but may not for long.

"If this continues to go at this rate, it's going to eat up my excess," said Pierce. "It's causing me to have to amend my budget almost monthly."

And that trickles right back to the bus barn and Mike Tingle. It takes about 850 gallons to fill up all 26 buses every three days. That costs the district almost $2,000 every time the buses are filled.

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