Schools gain some savings from low fuel prices

? Fuel contracts from fall lessen savings.

USD 410 Superintendent Steven Noble says the district should see about $10,000 in savings, but it?s a far cry from offsetting revenue reductions due to declining enrollment. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressFalling fuel prices have benefitted many families and businesses to the tune of $1.50 less per gallon of gasoline from the same time last year.

School districts are benefiting from the lower prices, too, but not to the full extent they might be, thanks to the practice of approving fuel contracts for a set number of gallons back in Novem??ber.

At the time, USD 410 contracted for 2,500 gallons at a price of $2.526 per gallon and 8,500 gallons of dyed diesel at $2.889.

Consumer prices in Hills?boro Monday were $1.79 for gasoline and $1.94 for diesel.

Even though USD 410 won?t reap the full benefit of current prices, Super?intendent Steve Noble projects the district still will save around $10,000 this budget year because the district consumes more fuel than it contracts for?and will pay for it at lower prices, at least for the foreseeable future.

?Our board contracted fuel in November when prices were dropping,? Noble said. ?Historically over the past many years, November was the bottom for fuel prices annually before creeping back up for the Thanksgiving, Christ?mas and New Year?s holiday travel season.?

Noble said prices historically continue to climb during the spring and peak in summer just in time for the vacation travel season.

?Who knew we would see record-low prices after November?? he said, adding with a smile: ?I?ve never been a good gambler.?

A year ago, the average price for gasoline across Kansas was $3.12 per gallon and $3.77 for diesel, according to AAA. The highest recorded average price in the state was $4.02 for gasoline and $4.819 for diesel, both occurring in mid-July.

During the 2013-14 budget year, the district?s fleet of buses, vans, cars and pickups traveled just under 220,000 miles, all but 85,800 of those miles fueled with gasoline.

Noble said the $10,000 savings in fuel costs is a drop in the tank compared with the projected budget shortfall resulting from declining enrollment in 2014.

?We are budgeting about $260,000 in cash reserves to get through the year?spending $260,000 more than we will take in,? he said.

?The savings from fuel contracting will reduce the amount we will need to use of our cash reserves to balance the budget for fiscal year 2015 and, therefore, also reduce the amount we will need to cut.?

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