(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Missouri Board of Education's most recent report said the state is $200 million short in transportation funding.
Missouri is cutting its transportation funds to school districts by at least 45 percent, potentially limiting how many buses the state can afford to have on the road. A cut that St. Joseph District Financial Advisor, Dr. Gabe Edgar, saw coming.
"We had an idea that transportation was going to be cut over and over again," Edgar said.
For a Missouri district to be considered fully funded, the state needs to provide 75 percent of the total transportation costs. The St. Joseph School District received only 29.6 percent of the necessary 75 percent in state funds. The district was supposed to get $2.48 million for transportation but instead received around $735,000.
"It's not affecting us in a positive way, we are meeting with Apple and we are doing the best we can, so we don't lose any extra dollars," Dr. Edgar said.
The St. Joseph School District contracts the Apple Bus Company for transportation.
General Manager Kim Green says they spend all summer figuring out the most efficient school bus routes.
"Contractors run pretty lean, so we try to do everything as efficient and cost effective as we can," Green said.
As time goes on, Edgar said he thinks the transportation budget will continue to be a target for state budget cuts, which will force the distict to make cuts of their own.
"Extracurricular activities some time- thats the place they choose to cut," said Green.
Green said she's seen some district's not run to certain areas by instituting full "walk-zones". For Missouri, the state walk-zone maximum is 3.5 miles, but the St. Joseph School District only institutes a 1-mile walk-zone.
"We are driven by attendance and those types of things," Edgar said. "If we didn't provide transportation, it would be a disaster," Edgar said.
While the district is safe this year, if it doesn't receive the projected 35 percent state funding or can't raise additional transportation funds, it's the most vulnerable to feel it next year.
"Ultimately that comes out of your opperating fund just like everything else, so it's taking away from your students- it's taking away from your teachers and those types of things," Edgar said.
The state board also said it will ask for $25 to $30 million a year from the General Revenue Fund in an effort to become fully funded in nine years.
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