School board will require schools to pay for field trips

The next time a school is going to take its students on a field trip that is not school required, the Vermilion Parish School Board voted to charge the school for the amount of diesel it uses.

The board voted last week to charge schools the price it pays for diesel who take non-mandatory field trips. Next year, the board is looking at a $1 million fuel bill based on $5 per gallon diesel. Because of the double in cost of fuel to operate its bus fleet next year, the School Board was looking for ways to save money.

One way is to begin charging schools the price of diesel it burns each time the school uses it for a field trip.

Based on the two field trips per grade, that new diesel charge is going to put a dent in some schools’ budget.

Eaton Park Elementary Principal Paul Hebert said his school takes two field trips per grade a year. While they are only to Lafayette, it will cost his school an extra $750 next year to take those same field trips.

Eaton Park uses two buses per grade (with the exception of Pre-K) to go 50 miles round trip to Lafayette.

Each bus gets around eight miles to the gallon. So, for a school bus to travel back and forth to Lafayette, it burns six gallons or about $30 of diesel. Eaton Park needs two buses per grade. If the fourth grade class wants to go to the museum in Lafayette after LEAP testing, it will cost the school $60 per trip for fuel. That is not counting the $8.50 per hour the school has to pay for the bus driver to drive the bus to Lafayette.

If the school decides to head to Baton Rouge to visit the zoo for a field trip, it will now cost the school $82 per bus.

Two elementary teachers had not yet been informed about School Board’s new decision on charging the school for diesel.

Hebert said he uses a grant to help pay for the field trips but with the new diesel charges, he will have to look at how much it will cost his school 11 field trips a school year and the school may cut back on the field trips next year.

Liz Gremillion of Dozier Elementary said her school does not get a grant to help pay for field trips. She said she will have to come up with creative ways to raise money for field trips in order to help pay for the diesel.

The Vermilion Parish School Board will not allow schools to pass the fuel cost onto the students, because of how the school bus insurance policy reads.

The School Board first looked at charging each school 25 cents per mile for field trips but figured it was not enough after hearing from Kirk Soileau, who was in charge of the school board’s transportation department. Soileau said it cost the School Board $2 per mile to operate a bus.

School Board member Anthony Fontana wanted to know what was the total cost to the School Board for field trips, but no one had an answer. He said it would not do any good to charge 25 cents or 50 cents per mile if it cost the School Board more per mile.

“If they are going non-mandatory trips, then they are going to have to raise the money,” Fontana said. “With today’s economy we can’t do it.”

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