In the space of two weeks, Kristin Rutledge Padalik saw her gas prices go up more than 30 cents per gallon at her local gas station in North Port.
“Our (gas) went from $3.34 to $3.69 in less than two weeks,” Padalik wrote on the Sun’s Facebook page. “One day there was a 15-cent jump overnight. That’s ridiculous.”
When prices start rising like that, Padalik said she stops driving as much. Padalik is not alone.
Gas consumption is down all over, according to Ned Bowman, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association in Tallahassee.
“(Florida) is the third largest gas market in the country,” said Ned Bowman, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association in Tallahassee. “It’s a very competitive field, but gas consumption is down overall. Our members make more money on coffee than a tank of gas.”
Many parents of students in Charlotte and Sarasota county schools are battling a tough economy where they may find themselves affected by gas prices.
The Sun asked area parents how they are dealing with the high cost of getting in a car and traveling to sporting events and other activities.
The responses on Sun and Herald Facebook pages suggest parents are driving less, making multiple stops when they do go out and are carpooling with other families.
Jo Hines posted on the Englewood Sun page how she budgets her gas to run errands with minimal trips.
“(We’re) trying to combine all trips to town to when I have to pick up my son from school,” Hines wrote.
Stephanie Hun Boynton chooses to carpool.
John Trotten bought a hybrid vehicle. “My personal response was to buy a more efficient car, ” Trotten wrote on the Charlotte Sun Facebook page.
“I drive an Expedition and often kids want to go see their friend’s game or competition and their parents cannot drive,” Boynton wrote on the North Port page. “I usually load them in with us and often their parents chip in for gas. Honestly, the moms I know from my son’s sports team, we all help each other.”
Jennifer Gowens also tries to save gas by carpooling.
“If you can, plan in advance,” Gowens said. “For us, we will cut corners elsewhere. There is sometimes the option to get together and carpool with other families.”
The pay-to-participate program in Charlotte County charges high school students $100 to participate in one sport, $125 to play multiple sports or $200 for a family of athletes, according to a previous Sun report.
Schools provide transportation to some events, but parents still have the burden to provide transportation to other games at other schools.
Brian Nolan, athletic director of Charlotte High School, said the school is set up where parents have to provide transportation for their children to games at Port Charlotte High School, North Port High School and Island Coast High School in Fort Myers.
“We provide bus transportation outside the three schools,” Nolan said. “Each school in the county has three schools they designate to meet at (for games.)” Coming up with the gas money is hard for parents. It could mean fewer groceries on the table, Nolan said.
He estimates about 70 athletes at the school and their families are impacted.
“I fully understand the concept behind pay-to-participate,” he said, “but I think we could be hurting kids in the long run. I don’t see it going away any time soon.”
Sarasota County doesn’t have a pay-to-participate program and transportation hasn’t been an issue, according to Ryan LaVallee, North Port High School athletic director.
“We try to keep things within our budget,” LaVallee said. “I think for the most part, the parents have been supportive.”