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This week, we take a look at the impact of higher prices on the Clark County R-1 School District
By Mike Scott
So, how is the school going to deal with five-dollar diesel?
“We’re okay,” answered Clark County R-1 Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht. “We locked it in for 18 months a while back.”
The school district can get one more load of fuel at the locked-in rate.
“After October, it’s going to be an issue,” he added.
For the past several years, the district has budgeted $110,000 per year for fuel.
“We’re well under that because we locked in a price. I never changed it from a couple years ago when diesel of $3.50 a gallon.
Kracht is currently working on the 2022-2023 budget, which will be voted on by the school board before the end of June.
“We’ll have to bump it up some, but not a ton right now,” Kracht said.
Going forward, Kracht said the district is likely not enter a long-term agreement, hoping that the cost will go down again.
Fuel prices are not the only transportation expense that’s gone up.
“New buses are now well over $100,000. The last time we bought a new bus, it was around $90,000. The last few years, we bought used buses in the $60- $65,000 range. Now those buses are over $70,000 for the good, used buses with 20-25,000 miles.
A shortage of bus drivers also has the district looking a dropping four routes, from 16 to 12 routes.
“We’re mapping it our right now,” Kracht said. “That being said, I can pay the drivers more because they’re going to be driving more. So I can spread that money out over the other drivers to get pay a little higher so that we keep drivers.”
Rising food costs won’t be a factor this year, Kracht said, because the district has locked in costs with OPAA Food Management.
“If food prices continue going up, that will be an issue going forward,” he added.
“Everything we buy, like custodial supplies and paper, is going up,” had said.
“My biggest concern is staffing. How do we keep up with the private sector that keeps raising wages,” Kracht said.
“I always use McDonalds or Burger King as an example. They are having to pay $15 per hour to get people. So what have you noticed when you go to any fast food place-it’s a lot more expensive,” he said.
“Schools can’t do that. We can’t raise prices. We’re on a fixed income. We might get a little increase if property taxes go up, but it’s not enough to keep up with inflation,” he continued.
“Personnel makes up 80 percent of our budget,” said Kracht. “We’ve got to meet the $38,000 minimum, so that’s going to cost us, but if we don’t, we won’t get teachers because they will go to other school districts that are. A lot of our experienced teachers will be making the same as a new teacher, and that’s not good for staff morale.”
“Insurance went up 12 percent this year. That cost the district an extra $105,000 this year. But health insurance is the reason we get a lot of our non-certified staff, especially since the majority makes less than $15 per hour.”
“When our cost’s go up, we have to figure a way to cut in other areas, which impacts students. That’s what we try to avoid, but if this inflation continues, we’ll have to make some tough decision down the road,” he said.
The district’s current HVAC project was also impacted by soaring prices, and needed to be scaled back from the original proposal. Now underway, the project will upgrade heating and air conditioning in several buildings, as well as address other issues. The project is funded by federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) funds.