School districts have an inordinate responsibility in getting our children where they need to be, safe and on time. However, funding school bus routes isn’t cheap. Often, districts are forced by law to allocate state money to one area when it would be better served funding something else. If we allow individual districts more leeway in determining how to dispese their own funding, within reasonable boundaries, we can make sure that our taxpayer dollars are being used in a more efficient manner amenable to the specific concerns of disparate localities.
A new law, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, will help accomplish this goal. Senate Bill 687 allows a school district to use a portion of the money previously appropriated to a district’s professional development committee for school transportation if certain conditions are met. The district must have a pressing need for additional transportation funding, determined by the percentage of the transportation’s allowable cost, per the school foundation formula, the state government is then providing. If the state is appropriating less than 25 percent of the allowable cost of student transportation in a certain district, the school board of that district may vote to allow up to half of the state funds designated for the professional development committee to be used for transportation funding, instead.
I believe SB 687 is a sensible step in the right direction. Transportation is an inescapable expense for any school district, not least of which are those in rural northwest Missouri, which often cover miles upon miles of territory. By altering the process to give local districts more freedom in designing their own budgets, we’re making better use of taxpayer funds. I wish all our students and teachers the best of success in the new school year.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.