High fuel prices are taking their toll again, this time on a local school system. Perry County School officials say they are consolidating routes, and putting fewer buses on the roads. The change will help the school system save money, but some parents aren't happy about the decision.
School officials say consolidating one bus route can save the school up to $35,000, but after nine consolidations, some parents say their children are getting home from school almost an hour later than before the change.
Financial Officer Jody Maggard says the consolidation helps in several ways, it makes the routes more efficient, saves money on fuel and it helps lower the number of drivers needed for the buses.
"We have to reduce our costs just to make ends meet. We also have rising costs everywhere else, not only with fuel," says Maggard.
Parents say high gas prices are making them rely on school busses even more to get their children to and from school.
Parent Diane Hollan says, "I used to pick him up, but where the prices went up, we couldn't afford to do that. And it was just easier because they could pick him up in the driveway."
Maggard says a state law requires students to spend no more than 45 minutes on the bus. "Anytime that we can't meet that 45 minute rule, then we just can't consolidate the route, regardless of how much money it would save the district."
Carolyn McDaniel's daughter attends Big Creek Elementary and says, "It's causing the kids to have to stay in school longer, and I don't think that's fair for the kids."
McDaniel says her daughter stays at school for about an hour while her bus runs its first route, then the bus returns to the school to pick up more students for a second run.
"She comes home crying over it 'Mom, I don't want to stay longer, I don't want to be in school another hour.' But I said, it's something we've got to deal with right now." says McDaniel.
McDaniel hopes when prices go down, her daughter will leave school a little earlier.
Jody Maggard says they look to consolidate bus routes every year. He says this year the money saved will help make ends meet in other areas across the school system.