School Board Modifies Fuel Reimbursement Policy

September 22, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Monday night met in special session and voted to amend a policy giving some relief to groups who have to reimburse the school system for the cost of bus transportation to and from extracurricular activities.

The school board adopted this policy earlier this year, making it apply to all groups.

Under the policy, sponsors of field trips, athletic programs, the high school band, clubs, and other extra curricular activities are required to pay the bus driver, reimburse the school system for the cost of fuel, and pay for the cost of wear and tear on the bus.

The calculation was originally figured on the cost of fuel per gallon based on the last delivery costs, divided by average bus mileage of 6.5 miles per gallon, rounded to the nearest whole cent, and then doubled for the wear and tear of the bus, multiplied by the number of miles traveled.

Transportation employee Peggy Pursell said Monday night that actual mileage of one bus on a recent trip to and from a football game was checked and it came to eight miles per gallon. "We used a bus with a full tank of gas and when we got back, we filled it up again and we checked our mileage. We got between eight and eight and a half miles per gallon. So we're figuring at eight miles now. I bought fuel Friday from Harris Oil in Cookeville. I got 7,000 gallons and I only needed 5,000. Mr (Kenny) Edge took the overage. We bought the fuel for $3.08 and they delivered it today (Monday)."

Sixth District School Board member Bruce Parsley said Monday night, he believed assessing a cost for wear and tear was unfair. "My thinking is we've already paid for the buses. We shouldn't be charging kids again for wear and tear."

Seventh District Board member Johnny Lattimore responded that other school systems make a charge for wear and tear and that " looking at what other counties are charging, we are well under them."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby added that the policy is written so that the costs fluctuates as the price of fuel changes."The proposal that we passed made everything sort of on a sliding scale. If things cost more then the fuel per mileage and depreciation was going to cost more. Now it's less. In the beginning, when we were talking about this, it was going to cost over a dollar a mile and now we're down to 77 cents per mile so that part has gone down. Our policy for extracurricular activities for field trips is less expensive than the majority of school systems in our area. I know we're DeKalb County and we make our policies for DeKalb County but we do look at other places too to find out what's in line."

However, Third District member Kenny Rhody said the charge for depreciation of the buses is creating a financial hardship on some groups like the high school band program. "Some parents have talked to me and they have really been bothered by the costs. They said they would be doing good if they could pay for the fuel. Some of the parents expressed the same thing Mr. Parsley said that we bought these buses when they were new for the children and when they wear out we'll buy more new buses, but we bought them for our kids to use. They don't mind paying for the fuel, but the buses, they feel like they've paid for once, and are now being hit with another charge. It's enough on them to have to pay for the fuel. That's a big burden for them. If we just do the surcharge on the fuel and not have the additional fee for the usage and wear and tear, then if it goes over $4.00 a gallon, we could look at this policy again."

Board member Parsley made a motion that these groups pay only for the cost of the fuel and the bus driver on these trips to extracurricular activities, but that the charge for wear and tear be eliminated. Board member Kenny Rhody seconded the motion, but they were the only members voting for it.

Board Chairman Charles Robinson and members W.J. (Dub) Evins III, Johnny Lattimore, Joan Draper, and John David Foutch voted no.

Lattimore then made a motion that the cost for wear and tear be cut in half, which would currently make it 19 cents instead of 38 cents, and that the board take another look at the policy in January.

All voted in favor, except Parsley.

So the new formula will be as follows:
Divide the cost of fuel based on the last delivery, currently $3.08, by 8 miles per gallon and the cost is figured at 38 cents per gallon. Then add another 19 cents for the cost of wear and tear and the total cost per mile is 57 cents.

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