Fuel Shortage Could Impact Montgomery School Transportation
The Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent says she is concerned about a POSSIBLE shortage of diesel fuel.
Montgomery County Superintendent Dr. Carlinda Purcell says rising gasoline prices are having a big impact on all of us and will certainly impact the school transportation budget. Purcell says, "The shortage could have a serious impact to Montgomery County Schools over the coming weeks and may affect its ability to transport students. At this point, the system has enough fuel to provide bus transportation for about two weeks. Another 8,500 gallons has been ordered, and if it is available, it would increase fuel reserves to another three weeks. Beyond that we are not sure we will be able to secure diesel for our buses. Should the system run out of fuel, it may be necessary to temporarily close schools until our supply is replenished."
The school system is already taking precautions to try and save as much fuel as possible, while still trying to operate. All field trips, except those required by Special Education Individual Education Plans, have been suspended until further notice. All athletic teams will be allowed to travel to games, but other organizations are being asked to help pay for the band and other groups to get to the games.
Superintendent Purcell has also restricted travel to only essential personnel, who are required to travel to attend mandatory workshops or training. In addition, travel by district personnel within the system will also be limited. Central office academic support staff will continue to serve schools, but are likely to visit one school for an extended time, rather than traveling between several schools in one day. Purcell says, "We are watching this crisis take shape and we are taking every precaution and are seeking viable solutions to continue bus service for our students. Closing school would be a last resort, but it is a possibility."
Earlier this week, Governor Bob Riley announced there is a gas shortage in Alabama, especially in the southwestern part of the state. The shortage is being caused by Hurricane Katrina. The storm shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is still not completely back up. The other problem is the lack of power, which is needed to pump the gas out of the pumps at gas stations. Since the shortage announcement, gas stations around the state have been packed off and on with drivers who have been filling up every tank they can find, despite the Governor's request for everyone to remain calm.
Alabama's Petroleum Council says the Montgomery area is supplied by two primary pipelines, the Colonial pipeline and the Plantation pipeline. As of Thursday, the Plantation pipeline was at 95% of normal fuel transport. As of Friday, the Colonial pipeline is at 66% normal fuel transport. They hope to be back to 75% transport by Sunday.
Again, state leaders, even President George W. Bush have asked everyone to save gas and to not buy it unless it is necessary. They say there is no need to panic.