SIKESTON -- Households aren't the only ones reeling from the high fuel prices -- school districts are, too.
Even though the Sikeston R-6 School District reduced the number of miles it drove last year by 30,000, its fuel cost went up about $25,000, said district transportation director Randy Thompson as he updated the R-6 Board of Education with the annual transportation report during Tuesday's regular meeting.
"We're all too familiar with the fuel costs," Thompson said "This is a major part of our budget that we go through -- it's just something I want to make sure you're all aware of."
In addition to school buses, district transportation includes maintenance, technology and other school vehicles, Thompson pointed out.
"I think we need to plan for the worse-case scenario than hope for the best. I think that's how we all address our own personal vehicles and our personal use," Thompson said.
Thompson estimated the higher fuel costs will mean an increase of $30,000 to $60,000 in the district's transportation budget this school year.
To decrease miles and cost, Thompson said the department is consolidating routes, using basic bookkeeping and keeping an eye on cost and mileage. It has also done careful planning when it comes to field trips, making sure they're all educational and responsible.
"Hopefully things will change -- and if they don't, then at least we'll be prepared to take care of those costs," Thompson said.
Keeping on the subject of fuel, the board also awarded the fuel bid to Keller Truck Service of Sikeston, which bid 5.5 cents per gallon for both gasoline and diesel. The only other bid received was from Santie Wholesale Oil Co. of Sikeston, which bid 17 cents per gallon for gasoline and five cents per gallon for diesel. All bids were per rack price at the Scott City Terminal, which included freight.
Also on Tuesday, the board agreed to stay in the lawsuit which challenges the state's funding formula on the argument it's inequitable and inadequate. The district renewed its membership with the Committee for Educational Equality as the board members approved the 2005-2006 fees with the group, which will not exceed $4,000.
Initially 250 school districts participated in the lawsuit when it was filed. Today 237 of those schools remain in the lawsuit.
"The schools that dropped out felt like they would be taken care of adequately, and we have no guarantee of that," said Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller. "And that's why I would encourage the board to definitely stay involved in this because our small investment, even if the lawsuit is not successful, will reap millions and millions of dollars for us over the years when this suit is finally settled."
Borgsmiller said it looks like filings may be in court as early as January 2006.
Dr. Marisa Bowen, assistant superintendent of curriculum and middle grades, informed the board the district received an Annual Performance Report score of 82 out of 100 points.
APR scores are calculated by using data from the past five years with five standards reviewed -- two of which look for improvement in math, communication arts, science and social studies, Bowen explained. The remaining three standards look at improvements made on the ACT, increase in credits received in advanced and vocational courses, college and vocational placement, dropout rate and student attendance.
"If a district is going through its five-year review, the overall APR score determines whether it receives accreditation," Bowen said. "With Sikeston's score of 82, if we had been going through our MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Plan) review, we would have been fully accredited."
The final APR will be released by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Nov. 1.