The fuel panic that ensued after Hurricane Katrina interrupted oil production and transportation in the Gulf Coast region has heightened concerns over rising fuel costs that already had existed before the storm. These soaring costs have put a serious strain on school budgets, prompting school leaders to examine ways they can save.

On Friday, average gas prices in the U.S. were $3.03 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. Fuel prices that already were hitting record highs this time last year have increased by as much as 50 percent in some areas.

Many districts have taken steps aimed at


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