Board of education will look at ways to cut costs
By Sarah Nagem
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education on Monday will consider ways to cut costs, including reducing the number of bus stops.
The school system is still working on bus routes and has not decided what stops will be eliminated, said Judy Burris, director of transportation for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
“Some stops will be eliminated by combining stops and relocating them to corners or a central location in a neighborhood,” Burris said in an e-mail.
Last school year, buses stopped almost 15,000 times a day, Burris said. That includes morning and afternoon stops.
High diesel prices have schools scrambling for ways to cut costs. The idea is that the system could save money with fewer bus stops.
“Fuel efficiency is optimal when obtaining a constant speed,” Burris said in an e-mail. “Fewer stops would result in a reduction of fuel consumption.”
The state says school buses should not travel less than two-tenths of a mile between stops, said Gene Miller, assistant superintendent for operations at the Rowan-Salisbury system.
Miller said stops will be eliminated based on safety ó access to sidewalks and the amount of traffic will be considered.
The school system set up a committee last month to make money-saving suggestions. Fuel costs are a hot issue.
Another possibility is to reduce the number of field trips, Burris said.
Instead of taking traditional field trips, Burris suggested, students could go to the Horizons Unlimited learning center in Salisbury.
Miller said the system could also cut fuel costs by not sending high school marching bands to football games away from the home school.
He also said junior varsity and varsity sports teams could play on the same nights to cut costs. Now, junior varsity football teams often play the night before varsity teams.
“It may not save a whole lot, but then again, it costs to run an activity bus,” Miller said.
Reducing the number of bus rides might seem like an obvious way to pinch pennies. But Miller is looking beyond that.
The system might force teachers to remove mini-refrigerators, coffee pots and microwaves from their classrooms, he said.
Workers are in the process of surveying how much energy is being used by having appliances in classrooms.
“It’s not unusual to find 15 or 20 mini-refrigerators in classrooms,” he said of Rowan-Salisbury schools.
Miller said Corriher-Lipe Middle, for example, has 21 mini-refrigerators. The school system spent about $420 last school year to run them.
That’s $20 per refrigerator.
“If that’s indicative throughout our schools, guess how much that could cost,” Miller said.
Some classroom refrigerators are likely necessary for things like children’s medication, he said.
Miller is also looking at irrigation of athletic fields. The system spent about $31,000 to water athletic fields from September through January last school year, he said. Schools watered every other day.
Schools could cut costs by irrigating their ball fields every six days instead, Miller said. More water would be used at one time, but less often.
“You use less water that way,” he said.
Miller will also make other energy cost-cutting suggestions to the board. The system could force schools to maintain certain temperatures, turn out the lights after school, turn off computers and close the windows.
Last school year, the Rowan-Salisbury system spent about $4.5 million on electricity, gas and water, Miller said.
The school board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday at 110 S. Long St. in East Spencer.