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School Bus

Green River wrestlers and staff members board the bus following a tournament on Feb. 22 in Casper. One out of every three miles driven by a Wyoming school bus in the 2012-13 school year was spent transporting students to and from sporting events, field trips, summer school and other activities.

Ethete to Moorcroft: 296 miles.

Burlington to Lusk: 319 miles.

Gillette to Evanston: 449 miles.

Not counting the multiple buses that often transport large teams, Wyoming school buses traveled more than 9,000 miles driving students to and from football games around the state Friday.

And football season has just begun.

One out of every three miles driven by a Wyoming school bus in the 2012-13 school year was spent transporting students to and from sporting events, field trips, summer school and other activities, according to a Star-Tribune analysis of state transportation data.

Nearly 20 percent of the total miles driven that year involved transportation of students to and from activities alone, including athletics.

The state data regarding travel costs is not collected using an exact science, said David Koskelowski, who manages the traffic safety and pupil transportation program at the Wyoming Department of Education.

The state calculates cost per mile by factoring how many miles districts report driving into how much they ask for in reimbursement each year.

Six of Wyoming's 48 school districts drove more than half their total mileage in the 2012-13 school year for reasons other than taking students to and from school, according to the data.

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That figure applied to districts in Lovell, Kemmerer, Lyman, Guernsey, Dubois and Ethete, some of the state's smallest districts.

Cheyenne outspent Casper getting its students to and from activities and field trips in the 2012-13 school year, but both those districts spent more time on the road during regular daily bus routes than the average district.

Cheyenne buses spent about 25 percent of their driving time on the road to and from activities and field trips in 2012-13. Casper buses spent about 23 percent of their mileage driving to and from those activities.

"We're central, so it doesn't take us as long to get to Gillette or other places as it does from Cheyenne," said Syd Webb, transportation director for the Natrona County School District.

The larger the district, the greater the proportion of driving time dedicated to daily school routes, according to the data.

But buses in the state's five largest districts covered more ground taking students to and from activities in the 2012-13 school year than the bottom 29 school districts combined.

Cheyenne buses covered the most ground. 

Buses in Laramie County School District 1 drove 489,556 miles taking students to and from activities, field trips, summer school and other activities in the 2012-13 school year, the data showed. Overall, buses in that district drove 1,945,033 miles.

Casper school buses drove more than 2 million miles in total. On activities and field trips, buses there drove 467,810 miles.

The state's transportation budget overall was $71.1 million that year. In all, Wyoming spent $21.3 million to transport students to activities -- including sports, summer school, field trips and other outings -- in the 2012-13 school year.

Reach education reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or leah.todd@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

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