fuel prices

Record Diesel Prices Strain Budgets of San Diego County School Districts

Poway Unified said fuel costs jumped 71% since January

NBC Universal, Inc.

At $6.27 per gallon, the price of diesel fuel set another record high in San Diego County this week. One year ago, it was selling for $4.06.

That’s really bad news for school districts that operate fleets of diesel-powered school buses. Poway Unified School District has 155 buses and they are all diesel's.

“Very frustrated and shocking,” said Tim Purvis, the district’s director of transportation, with a sight

Purvis said Poway Unified’s diesel costs jumped 71% since January, the largest jump in his 38-year career.

“For us, it’s an additional $80,000 we need to move into our fuel account just to get us through this school year,” Purvis said. “I’m preparing for about a 50% increase, hoping that it will dip off before next school year.”

Purvis explained that the district buys fuel in bulk and, as a school district, it doesn’t have to pay federal taxes on that fuel.

“We’re not paying at the pump what you and I privately are,” Purvis explained. “However, in retrospect, the percentage difference is exactly the same.”

In December of last year, Poway Unified paid $2.90 a gallon for diesel. This month it’s paying $4.12.

“This is by far the most dramatic [increase] I’ve seen,” said Purvis.

The director of transportation said he and his colleagues are working to bring 28 electric buses online by next year. He said the buses would have provided 15% in fuel savings if they had them available this year.

NBC 7 reached out to San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union High School District to see how they were impacted by diesel prices. Both districts are on spring break, however, and was unable to provide information Monday.

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