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April 15, 2016

Budget Update - Transportation Funding

One of the areas that the state, through the McCleary ruling, had been tasked with addressing was the full funding of student transportation. Full funding of student transportation is based on a formula that includes various factors such as district square miles, number of routes, special programs, student ridership, etc. The full funding of student transportation was phased in beginning in 2013-14 and fully implemented in the 2014-15 school year.  Prior to 2013-14, the student transportation program was only funded at 50% of the cost.

District student transportation costs are close to $5.5M for a school year. There are 119 buses in the fleet with well over 100 drivers.

A recent challenge for our transportation administration has been to plan additional bus routes associated with the opening of our new schools - Sage Crest Elementary, Chinook Middle School, and Desert Hills Middle School. This planning has been occurring for the last two years since it also impacts our bus replacement schedule.

We normally have to replace 5-8 buses each year. Factoring additional routes associated with new schools requires the purchase of additional buses beyond the replacement cycle. We purchased 10 buses that were delivered August 2015 at a cost of $1.24M.  We are scheduled to receive another 10 buses this August at a cost of $1.27M.

Even though the state says that they have fully funded student transportation, they have not fully funded bus replacement. Bus replacement funding is based on a state formula based on current bus fleet depreciation. The funding from this formula never really catches up with the current need.

This school year we received $524K for bus replacement, when we spent $1.24M.  In a normal replacement year, we may purchase 6 buses costing $780K, but only receive $500K to $550K from the state.

In order to fund the purchase of the 10 buses we received last year and 10 more this summer, a total of $1.3M of funds ($650K per year), will have been transferred from the General Fund to the Transportation Vehicle Fund.

General Fund finances and a well-managed transportation budget has put the District  in a good position to address student transportation needs for the upcoming school year. I also want to note that our student transportation operations continues to be rated at the top of the state efficiency ratings. These ratings are based on a statistical analysis of factors that are used to determine how efficient a district’s student transportation system is operated. Student Transportation

Vic Roberts
Director of Business Operations

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