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How do rising gas prices impact school budgets?

Thousands need to be moved to accommodate
School busses
Posted at 12:35 PM, Mar 11, 2022

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — From supplying paper to fueling buses that get students to and from school every day, costs are rising for school districts in WNY.

"We have 24 maintenance vehicles, we have 80-100 bus routes every day. Not to mention natural as we need to heat our buildings and that's going up as well," said Mark Laurrie, Superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District.

School officials are now tasked with figuring out how to pay for these increases.

"And understanding exactly how we think we may need to budget based on what we project for fuel prices for later into 2022 and into 2023," said Michael Cornell, Superintendent of Hamburg Schools and President of Erie Niagara Schools Superintendent's Association.

He says are well-positioned to handle these changes.

"We're not allowed to spend a single penny more than what we budget so I think districts have constructed budgets that can accommodate," said Cornell.

Districts have already moved money around to accommodate for driver shortages and other changes throughout the pandemic As they plan for next year in Niagara Falls, the impact on the budget is huge.

"Our overall utility line is just about double as a result of these rising gas prices," said Laurrie. "In anticipation of not knowing how high these prices can actually go."

It's a $250,000 increase.

These changes are for next year and later down the line. Right now, there's a deal between the district on gas where they pay a set price through June 30. Things are okay for districts, for now.

"Buses are gonna be fueled and children are getting to school, no matter what," said Cornell.

Both say help from New York State is crucial to getting them through the next few years. If inflation persists, they may need more help.