GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — It is going to cost more to keep school buses on the road for the 2022-2023 school year, and North Carolina lawmakers could decide to push through additional funds to help school districts cover that cost.
The price of diesel hit record-high average numbers in North Carolina on Friday at $5.42 per gallon.
Gas Buddy predicts those high costs will remain for the next two years and are impacted by the war in Ukraine and the demand for supply.
In April, leaders with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction drafted a presentation to request $32 million additional dollars from the state for the transportation fuel price reserve.
This is money that is allotted to help school districts pay for diesel. The decision will be made during the upcoming short session.
“The fuel reserve is a new concept that DPI is requesting in order to be better prepared in the future when things happen…the price of fuel is unusually high and highly variable week to week. DPI is offering additional contingency funding this year to help offset some of the additional costs, based on actual invoices, and is requesting the fuel reserve for next year in case high prices persist through most or all of 2022-23. DPI also asked districts to remind drivers of their existing local anti-idling policies to conserve fuel,” an NCDPI representative told FOX8.
For every 10 cents that diesel prices increase, the cost to operate school buses statewide goes up by $2 million.
Large school districts have avoided the cost impact so far because of leftover COVID funds. Other districts, like Thomasville City Schools, have begun to explore other options to foot the bill.
“At this point, we look at anything and everything we can to reduce our cost. We’ve looked at increasing our charges that we would use for our activity buses. Our athletes are paying for their buses through the ticket sales,” Asst. Superintendent Dr. Chris Kennedy told FOX8.
If approved, it’s unknown how much each district will get.