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NCSS sees drop in fuel costs
School officials hope to avoid budget adjustment

COVINGTON - Even though fuel prices shot up a few weeks ago after hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico damaged fuel sources, the Newton County School System is experiencing some of its lowest fuel costs on average this month.

According to an administrative services report from October, the school system purchased fuel at an average cost of $3.43 per gallon, for a total cost of $189,511, in September, when buses traveled more than 500,000 miles with an average of 8.8 miles per gallon.

"This is a decrease of (10 cents) a gallon under the average amount paid in August," said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, in her report.

Robertson said the least amount the school system paid for fuel this fiscal year, which started in July, was $3.29 in September, while the most paid was $3.99 in July.

The school system last purchased fuel in late September at a cost of $3.62 per gallon, and prices have dropped even more over the past week.

This fiscal year's fuel budget is based on an average price of fuel costing $3.50. Robertson warned the Newton County Board of Education in June, when fuel prices were well above that cost, to expect a midterm adjustment for fuel in 2009 if prices didn't come down.

At least for now, school system officials have a more positive vision for the budget's future.

"If we stabilize with our fuel, hopefully we will stay on target and not need a midterm adjustment" for fuel, Robertson told the board during the October work session.

According to the financial statement for October, the school system has used 16.21 percent, or $303,118, of its more than $1.87 million fuel budget, with 25 percent of the fiscal year complete.

In June, the school system had to move around funds in its 2007-08 general fund budget to cover shortfalls in fuel costs, and in August, the school system limited the number of field trips that schools can take.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.