Orange County Schools saving $2 million from lower gas prices

By Amanda McKenzie, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, January 22, 2016, 4:42 PM EST

Many motorists are saving money at the gas pump.

Orange County Public Schools is saving money, too, and that could mean better learning tools for students.

It's only halfway through the school year, but education officials said the district has saved about $2 million thanks to the falling gas prices. That money will be put back into the classrooms.

Orange County is the 10th largest school district in the country, and more than 70,000 students ride the bus each day.

"On an annual basis, we drive 18 million miles, which is 722 times around the earth," said Michael Eugene, chief operations officer for Orange County Public Schools. "It's a lot."

The district’s school buses guzzle more than 3 million gallons of gas each year.

With crude oil prices at a 12-year low, prices have settled under $30 a barrel. That has pushed gas prices down all across Central Florida, ranging from $1.70 to $1.80 per gallon.

"Just at the middle of the year, we've saved $2 million on having the lower fuel cost on more than 900 buses and 600 operational vehicles," Eugene said.

It's too soon to celebrate, though. The school year isn't over, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts oil prices will eventually increase.

For now, the school district is monitoring oil prices and holding onto the savings in case the money is needed later in the school year.

"We would rather keep the money in the classroom than in the tank of a school bus," Eugene said. "So, if we can run those buses more efficiently as a result, our job is to drive those dollars into the classroom itself."

When the school year ends in June, the district will have a better idea of how much money was saved in the budget from the lower gas prices.