Less Field Trips for Columbia County

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

September 30, 2005
The return of the gas tax could hurt more than your wallet. The soaring gas prices may threaten field trips and bus routes in Columbia County.

The school system has a computer that maps out the most efficient routes, but this may not be enough. Columbia County may not have enough in the budget to keep up with rising prices. They have extra funds just in case. Still, some serious cutbacks are possible. The first thing on the chopping block is field trips. Columbia Middle School teacher Janet Niehoff has a backup plan: "If those get cancelled, we will try to do other hands-on activities in their place."

Board of Education Chairman Regina Bucafusco is worried because the Georgia gas tax is back in place this weekend.

"After this weekend, nobody really knows how things are gonna go, whether or not the refineries are up. We're gonna wait and see just like everyone else," Bucafusco said.

The Department of Transportation has one hundred sixty buses that run each day, each for three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon.

On an average day, the buses in Columbia County use 2200 gallons of diesel fuel. That comes out to about forty-nine hundred dollars.

The Department of Transportation is asking bus drivers t ocut the engine whenever possible. And director Dewayne Porter keeps a close eye on bus routes.

"We're constantly looking at them to make sure they are as efficient as possible," Porter said.

Their computers map out the most efficient route to each student's home. If anything changes, they will make sure to get the message out to parents and schools. Janet Niehoff's main concern right now is keeping her field trips.

"We believe the hands-on type activities reinforce what we do in the classroom." Niehoff said.

Director of Transportation Dewayne Porter says they are looking to possibly adopt a fuel conservation plan. Depending on the level of the shortage, the plan calls for all sports and extra trips to be cancelled.


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