HomeNewsWashington State Survives Transportation Funding-Cut Scare

Washington State Survives Transportation Funding-Cut Scare

An additional $5 million will be added to Washington state’s biennial budget for student transportation services, upping the totals to approximately $260 million for both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

Allan J. Jones, the director of pupil transportation and fingerprinting at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said he expected the increased funding to remain in the budget despite efforts by Gov. Chris Gregoire in December to cut student transportation. A spokesman in Gregoire’s office could not confirm if she would veto any sections as a review of the budget was ongoing. Individual lines items cannot be vetoed.

“I think at this point we are comfortable she will not do that,” Jones added. “We’re going ahead.”

He estimated that an additional $2.2 million will be available in the transportation fund for the coming school year, and $2.8 million will be added in 2012-2013. Development of the new funding system was recently completed and was going through testing, Jones said, before the state rolled out additional training for school districts this summer on using the new formula.

Meanwhile, student transporters dodged another bullet when the state legislature failed to pick up on a proposal to defer state reimbursements for new school bus purchases until the end of each vehicle’s 13-year replacement cycle. While the proposal would have cut $43 million out of depreciation for the first year of new bus costs, Jones said that, in the long run, the reimbursement would cost the state more money by the end of the 13 years.

Still, transportation is not out of the woods yet as more than $100 million in unmet obligations by the state remain.

“There weren’t big cuts to basic education, but because there were so many cuts to all the different programs not included in basic education, there will be pressure on school districts to continue those programs,” Jones added. “That means there will be more pressure on what general funds are going to be spent on transportation to fill the underfunding.”

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