Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Is Transportation Money Baked into New School Funding Numbers?

In looking at the state's new school funding runs, it appears that once again transportation funds are included in the state aid amounts -- a problem that led to substantial shortfalls for many districts last budget cycle.

In prior budgets, transportation was funded outside the state's operating budget formula. But starting last budget, transportation was included. That, essentially, shorted transportation funding because a district's increase was capped at a certain level. So in many cases, districts would end up receiving less money for transportation than they needed, forcing them to utilize funds from elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

In looking at the state aid figures used to compare the new fiscal year 2016 and 2017 budget, it appears that the same baseline amount is applied in this budget as last one, which would mean that transportation costs are once again rolled into the districts' foundation formula. And gains are once again capped by the state, potentially leaving many districts with short transportation funds. Again

The Governor's office did not give a district-by-district break down of the different components that went into this year's state aid calculation, so it's not entirely clear whether transportation is included in the formula again. However, if it is, and the state decided to increase transportation funding this year, then much of the increase in school funding can be attributed to the increase in transportation funding -- a provision that wasn't even in the formula as recently as three years ago.

Stay tuned.