High gas prices pummeling school district’s budgets

Gas prices impacting schools
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 7:19 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Could the record highs at the pump begin to affect your children’s education? Some school district’s gas costs have nearly doubled over the last year. The school leaders I spoke with stress this is having a huge impact on their districts.

Walker County Superintendent Dennis Willingham even told me they are thankful there is only one week of school left. That way they can get a brief reprieve from the high gas prices.

“We are concerned with the gas prices as they are continuing to rise and when will they stop,” said Willingham.

The Jefferson County School District is also concerned. They have five hundred and fifty school buses, and that’s how most of their students get to and from school.

“We have 61 percent approximately of our students who ride the bus to and from school everyday, so that is an integral part of what we do in the school system so we are watching this very closely,” said Jefferson County Education Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin.

The Jefferson County School District spent 96 thousand dollars on gas in February 2021. This year, in February they spent 194 thousand dollars on gas, yet over the last three months prices have only gone up.

“I just got a more recent report. We are up about 150,000 dollars more per month at this particular time,” said Gonsoulin.

The surging costs now forcing school districts to take a hard look at their budgets.

“We look at direct needs, immediate needs and we prioritize those needs. So, of course fuel for buses ranks up high as far as needs are concerned. So we will just have to look at that list of priorities and we will have to budget accordingly down near the bottom of that list,” said said Willingham.

These are not the only districts dealing with this issue. Our Morgan Hightower got us data from the Shelby County and Hoover school districts that indicate a huge year over year increase in gas costs.

Back in March, Shelby County’s bus fuel expenditures totaled ay $528,906.72. That is approximately a 21% increase when comparing 2022 to 2019, the last pre-COVID year.

The Hoover School district paid $34,124.39 dollars for gas in February of 2021. This year, the district spent $61,290.21 on gas in the month of February.


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