High fuel costs create budget concerns for WCSD officials

Wayne County administrators are starting to feel the pinch on the pocketbook caused by rising fuel costs.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:45 PM CDT
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WAYNESBORO, Miss. (WDAM) - The recent increase in gas costs has had a significant impact on school transportation budgets, generating concerns about their operating budgets.

Here in the Pine Belt, officials with the Wayne County School District say they are monitoring prices as they make plans for the upcoming school year.

School buses don’t generally fill up at the local gas station. In fact, they don’t run on gas at all but rather higher costing diesel fuel.

The average price for a gallon of diesel in Mississippi is $5.32. Coupled with the fact that Wayne County is the fifth-largest in the state, the district is struggling to adjust its fuel budget for a fleet of buses that travel long routes across the county twice a day.

Superintendent Tommy Branch said costs have risen for other things, such as food prices and materials needed for maintenance. The higher price for fuel is cutting into the cost of providing other necessities.

“Looking at budgeting for fuel next year, it’s going to be more than triple,” Branch said, “Where it’s usually $150,000, we’re now having to budget for about $400,000, and that’s if they stay at the same prices they are now.”

“You’re looking at $300,000 over last year and that equates to about five or six teacher units that we can’t hire because we’re having to fund extra money to fuel, so anything we have to makeup, we have to figure it out.”

With a budget that’s bare-bones as it is, Branch said the WCSD still tries to maintain a 5-7% surplus for situations like this. He’s hopeful they can survive until the crisis is over.

District officials will meet in July to set their budget for the upcoming school year and will be looking for creative ways to make sure they are saving as much money as possible.

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