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Fewer school days mean less driving

School bus

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Today's high gas prices are forcing some heavy users of fuel to reconsider business as usual. Among them, school districts. Alisa Roth reports.


Alisa Roth: It's like having a snow day once a week. When students in rural Caldwell Parish, Louisiana go back to school in September, they'll only have four days of classes.

The district only has about 1,700 students. But they're scattered over a wide area. So the school buses drive more than a thousand miles a day.

John Sartin is superintendent of the district:

John Sartin: In figuring the amount of savings not only from the fuel but also from water and gas and electricity, we believe we'll have a significant savings.

Sartin thinks the district could save more than $100,000 a year. Caldwell joins a handful of other school districts around the country that have made similar calculations.

He promises quality won't be comprised. The four days will be longer and more compact. And off days will be used for remedial classes and teacher training.

Of course, working parents will be left to sort out child care for the extra day. But the local library hopes to help out; it's thinking about extending its summer children's program into the fall.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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