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Start times save fuel

In an effort to be more efficient in the face of skyrocketing fuel and other transportation costs, Oak Harbor School District officials have decided to tweak the start times of elementary schools starting in September.

The school board unanimously approved the change during the May 27 school board meeting.

The new start times will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. between the five elementary school. That change will reduce the number of bus routes, which in turn will reduce the number of drivers and cut the amount of fuel used.

“That was our aim to look at reducing costs for our transportation office,” Operations Director Bruce Worley said.

The school district receives money from the state to run transportation. However, there is a $400,000 gap between what the state pays and what it costs the school district to operate buses. In addition, the school district is expecting a $200,000 jump in fuel costs next school year, Superintendent Rick Schulte said.

Officials are trying to trim $2 million from the 2008-2009 budget. Additional cost-cutting moves include eliminating teaching positions and laying off support staff.

Staggering the elementary start times will allow buses to pick up students from more than one elementary school.

“I don’t think it’s huge to move it five or 10 minutes one way or another,” board member Corey Johnson said.

The move to fewer bus routes next year will also result in longer bus rides for some students. Families will be notified before the start of the new year.

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