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Schools hold off on spending surplus from fuel budgets

Falling gasoline prices might be leading some households to adjust their budgets, but Jackson County school districts report that they are not rushing to spend any extra money just yet.

Cooper Hogue, the Pascagoula School District transportation director, said his district runs 86 bus routes each day.

The fuel budget, $120,000 plus an extra $50,000 in reserve, was created based on the prices in summer of 2005.

Despite the fact that prices are lower now, Hogue said he expects prices to eventually climb upward again.

“Last year, the school district had to dip into $47,000 of the reserve fund. I expect to use every last cent of our fuel money,” Hogue said.

Ocean Springs School District business manager Donna Nester said that the district’s transportation budget is $1,041,000 for the entire department and includes the cost of fuel for 46 buses. Every year, the district takes bids from suppliers for gasoline, Nester said. Even though the price can fluctuate, the district does not alter the budget.

“I wouldn’t realize any gains or losses until the close of the fiscal year, Nester said.

Moss Point School District financial director David Rubenstein said that it is too early to speculate on how much, if any, the district will save.

“We haven’t changed our budget,” Rubenstein said.

It is also too early for Jackson County transportation director Jim Lucas to tell how the budget will end up. Lucas compared the transportation budget to a household budget, where a decrease in the price of one item usually does not lead to extra money for the household, because another expense usually pops up.