“Prepared for the worst”
School district already feeling heat from escalating natural gas prices
As temperatures begin the downward slide toward winter, the school districts heating bills are predicted to climb much higher than usual.
Richard Erickson, school superintendent, also saw the increase coming, and last spring he told board members fuel costs likely would increase this winter.
Were trying to prepare for the worst, Erickson said. Ive been to several meetings and at one they indicated we needed to plan for an 80 percent increase this year on our fuel oil and diesel and gasoline prices. At another meeting, they indicated that fuel and gas prices may increase as much as 250 percent. Thats a little more than we budgeted for, and we hope thats not the case.
In comparing current natural gas and fuel prices to last years, Erickson said a year ago the district was paying $3 per BTU of natural gas used. The current rate, he said, is $3.92.
So thats a 33 percent increase this year in the cost per gas unit, Erickson said.
Last year, the district paid $12,000 for heating oil and natural gas at the high school, Erickson said.
This year were budgeting $15,000, so thats about a 25 percent increase there, Erickson said.
The cost of heating the junior high last year was $10,400. It is budgeted at $12,000 for this year.
Last year, the district spent $10,884 heating the elementary school.
Were budgeting for $15,000, so thats about a 30 percent increase, Erickson said.
The district has no plans to keep the buildings cooler than usual during school days.
I want our kids to be comfortable and I want our teachers to be comfortable, Erickson said.
To conserve energy, the district sets back thermostats during evening hours and on weekends.
We feel that were operating very cost effectively as it relates to our energy savings, Erickson said.
If, despite the districts best efforts, heating costs exceed the budgeted amount, Erickson said the district might have to cut into the transfers to other funds this year, and cut into some other balances as well.
We dont want to do that, but we are prepared to do that if we have to, he said.
The district also is facing budget concerns over gasoline and diesel fuel, which also have been on the rise since last spring. For instance, last year the district spent an average of 60 cents a gallon for diesel fuel.
Now its running $1.08 a gallon, Erickson said.
The district purchases diesel fuel in bulk and refills its 12,000-gallon storage tank three or four times a year.