Rising gas prices threaten high school band trips

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Rising gas prices could threaten to silence visiting high school bands at football games in Jefferson County. School boards and band directors are discussing the possibility of keeping bands from taking road trips as a way to save money on gas.

"I drive a truck, I think I could more than pay for a car just how much gas prices have risen," David Allinder, band director at Shades Valley High School said. Allinder understands the high gas prices could threaten band trips but Allinder is more concerned about the impact of the lost money on the band program.

"The most important thing for all is is educating the kids by giving them a good broad based education where they are introduced to the arts," Allinder said.

Jefferson County School Superintendent Phil Hammonds has to sign off on all expenses over $50,000. Hammonds has had to do this for the last two months for the county's gas bills.

"We put 30 thousand miles a day on a fleet of 400 plus buses. That is a hugh impact. That could not come at a worst time for us with escalating fuel prices," Hammonds said.

Jefferson County schools could be facing more of a economic crunch if proration is declared this year and if major budget cuts take place next year.

"It's perfect storm of all the economic factors coming together," Hammonds said

Allinder understands marching bands are important to their community.

"Marching band, fall band is the most visible thing we do in the community. However it's a small part of what we are teaching the kids throughout a nine month school year," Allinder added.

School officials say one negative effect of stopping band trips would be the loss of revenue spent by the band members and their parents at the visiting stadiums.

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