Fuel prices have slowly fallen during the past couple of weeks, but years of rising prices is impacting school bus schedules for many of our school districts. High fuel prices are forcing Brunswick County Schools to cut costs. One way to do it is reducing the number of bus stops. Brunswick County Executive Director of Operations, Stephen Miley, says it simply comes down to dollars and cents. Fewer bus stops means fewer routes. "We've just gone through and cleaned up our routes to make sure they are as efficient as they can be," said Miley. Miley says the school district now spends $4.25 cents a gallon on diesel, but the state budget will only pay for $3.23 a gallon, creating almost a dollar shortfall. With 161 buses burning around 1800 gallons of fuel a day, Miley says they had to re-evaluate the use of their buses while sticking to bus stop regulations. A bus stop has to be within a mile of the students address and bus stops can be no more than 2 tenths of a mile apart. Students who live within one mile of their school are not assigned a bus, unless there are traffic safety issues, and bus stops are not placed on dead end roads or private streets. "We are not going to the maximum. We could put stops a mile away from a student's home. We aren't looking at doing anything like that right now," said Miley. More than 6,000 students ride the bus in Brunswick County. Miley says he expects that number to go up this year with parents opting to not drive kids to school to save on gas. Brunswick County School officials don't know yet exactly how many bus stops will be removed. They plan on notifying parents about the changes through their website and by mail. New Hanover County schools are also cutting out stops to save on gas. Officials say it will mostly affect middle and high school students, and it simply means children will probably have to walk a little farther to get to their stop.
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