Manhattan-Ogden District among school boards with extremely high natural gas bill, joins legal group

Local News

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – The Kansas Association of School Boards is providing a legal group for districts to join if they are battling exorbitant natural gas bills from the stretch of extreme weather in February.

In February, the midwest faced extremely cold temperatures and as a result, extremely high natural gas bills. Now a number of schools are joining a legal group to fight the bills, which in some cases were anywhere from six to 12 times higher than normal.

For example, the Manhattan-Ogden school district, along with the 177 other schools in the pool, get their gas from Symmetry Energy Solutions, based in Texas. They decided at their board meeting Wednesday night to join KJUMP, or the Kansas Joint Utilities Management, Natural Gas Consortium.

According to the district, their gas bill jumped 475% from January to February. And it has major financial implications as the bill of $123,363 accounts for 91.5% of their total energy budget for the entire year, $140,000.

178 schools are in the natural gas pool. 60 schools have joined the legal group as of Wednesday. The deadline for districts to join is May 11.

“Our hope is not to have to litigate the issue but to work with our energy providers one on one and negotiate a settlement that is fair to all parties,” said Austin Harris, Member Engagement Director for KASB. “We’re going to do everything we can to protect our members and make sure that schools are being treated fairly and equitably in this process.”

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