Hundreds of thousands spent on gas by local schools

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Rising gas prices always make the wallet feel a little lighter. Local school districts spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to keep school buses running.

It's the price you pay to drive: high gas costs you can't control. But, it's a cost the Yakima School District tries to control.

The district buys gas in bulk. Transportation Director Shirley Jenkins said the strategy is to buy when the price drops.

"We watch where it's going in the month of when to put in for the bid," said Jenkins. "Certain times of the month, it's higher than other times."

Sometimes the strategy works better than others. The Yakima School District went over budget on gas for the 2012 school year, then under budget by more than $60,000 last school year. It has spent more than $90,000 so far this school year.

The Sunnyside School District went over budget by more than $86,000 in the 2012 school year before saving money last year. It estimates $160,000 has already been spent so far this year.

The East Valley School District went slightly over budget in 2012, then under budget last year. It's spent more than $70,000 so far this year.

"We're always looking at the routes, and we're looking at the travel to see if there's a better, easier, more efficient way to be able to cut the costs," said Jenkins.

The Yakima, Sunnyside, and East Valley School Districts get money from their general fund when they're over budget and return any surplus money.

The Sunnyside and East Valley School Districts also buy gas in bulk.