May 9, 2006 at 8:48 AM CDT - Updated July 26 at 4:15 PM
High Gas Prices Equal Big Changes for School By: Carly O'Keefe
Dongola, IL - As gas prices hover just below $3 per gallon in southern Illinois, some smaller school districts are making changes in transportation; changes that limit when and how often students and athletes hitch a ride.
"Field trips were cut," said Dongola School Superintendent Nancy Dillow "They were reduced from pretty much unlimited field trips, if they asked for something we were usually able to accommodate it, and now we only allow one trip per classroom."
Dillow says that's because it costs a lot to keep the wheels on the bus going round and round.
"If the prices raise more, or even stay within 10 or 15 cents of where they are now, we could be in some serious trouble," Dillow said.
Cutting fuel costs means cutting mileage; that's meant a bit of a juggling act for Dongola sports teams.
"It used to be if we were playing at another district, our boys would go there, their girls would come here," said Dillow.
Now, instead of making two trips, the girls' softball and boys' baseball teams travel together.
"Both teams traveling together, that helps with fuel," said Dongola Athletic Director Preston Hall. "A lot of times even our junior high conference is traveling with both teams to one site to play two games, for baseball and softball."
Hall says he's even looked into scheduling triple basketball games to cut back on the number of trips to a certain school per year to save on transportation costs.
"It's expensive on all of us, whether we're driving a car or a bus, so anything we can do to help the school district save money is great," said Dongola High School Softball coach Terry Irvin.
According to Dillow, by making minor adjustments, fuel prices haven't driven the district to the breaking point, yet. But she says if costs keep going up, they may need to make some significant changes.
"I don't want the kids to miss out on anything, but on the other hand, you have to be realistic about the future of the district too," said Dillow.