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|Soaring fuel costs hurting schools|
With the skyrocketing costs of fuel soaring out of sight, and the powers that be unable apparently to do anything about it, it's time to take a look at the parish school systems to see how they are coping, especially with their athletic endeavors.
While the school buses have to transport students back and forth to school, prep leaders have begun to examine different ways of transporting students to various sporting events.
The buses use diesel fuel which is already over $4 a gallon and get about 10 miles to the gallon. Most of the big buses hold a 60 gallon tank..
West Monroe athletic director Don Shows said recently higher ticket prices might have to be implemented for the fall season, but at this time nothing concrete has been set.
Fuel prices cause a particular problem in Ouachita Parish because usually no matter who the opponent is, the local teams have to travel so far to get anywhere in order to play a game.
Ouachita Christian School baseball coach Micah Harper, who also serves as the school's athletic director, said there have not been any changes made in the schedules yet.
"Some of our schedules are already set for the fall," Harper said. "So far this leaves only the baseball and softball schedules to be completed. We have a number of tournaments we have to attend, so we won't change those."
Harper said he did not know if the costs of ticket prices would go up at this time.
"Raising the ticket prices might be a possibility," Harper said. "Or we could add another fundraiser to up the ante. We already have one fundraiser, but we could have two."
The prices at the pump also produce problems for the public school systems as well.
"This is a problem we just have to deal with," said OPSB school superintendent Dr. Bob Webber. "And the cost of diesel fuel is even more expensive than regular gasoline. Our hands are tied because the fall schedules have already been set. Most of the junior high and middle schools play within the parish, so that is not as much of a problem."
Webber said there has already been much discussion of the situation at the principal's meetings this spring.
"Construction costs have been driven up in relation to the fuel costs," Webber said. "So this is hurting us, too. We've been considering raising ticket prices at the high schools."
With the first of the fall sports looming large on the horizon with the football jamborees set for Aug. 28-30, the two 5-A schools, West Monroe and Ouachita, have to plan on playing six Shreveport teams in District 1-5A. Other teams in the district include Natchitoches Central and Ruston. Each team plays a mostly home and home schedule, but this can vary depending on the individual teams.
"All the schools chip in with transportation costs," said Skeeter Boyd, shop forman at the OPSB maintenance building in Monroe."We can cut our budget somewhere, but the transportation still has to be paid."
The farthest West Monroe has to travel is to Natchitoches. But once the playoffs begin, there is no telling where they will travel, which is also true for any classification.
"The biggest thing we're going to find is it'll cost more to take care of our field tractors," said Neville athletic director Mickey McCarty. "People have to make cuts to meet the costs, so we'll just have to take it as it comes."
At this time, McCarty did not believe the school system was going to have to raise the ticket prices, but that may come later.
"The junior highs in our system have had to cut back the number of times they cut the grass," McCarty said.
The tractors use diesel fuel and right now it is costing them $20 a time to fill up where as last year it cost about $13 or $14, according to McCarty.
The volleyball program Neville put in several years ago is a good case in point. No other schools in the parish played the game and it finally proved to be too costly to continue, so the school had to drop the sport.