Monday, January 29, 2018

Big Equity Impact From Transportation Cuts

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Governor Bevin’s proposed $138.5 million cut to school transportation funding will undermine equity as well as excellence. Based on past practice, we can expect students in some districts to take much greater damage than others, probably roughly like this:

Those are my estimates, based on published fiscal 2017 transportation cost calculations and the state’s method for handling cuts.

The transportation costs reflect Kentucky’s legally established formula, which considers the square miles in a district, the number of students to be bused over those miles, and other factors. Unsurprisingly, it costs more to transport students across a large, sparsely populated county than it does to move them within a compact independent school system.

The cuts are based on taking the same percentage off of the calculated costs. The percentage method guarantees that state funding reductions take more from some students than from others, and also ensures that the reductions will take the highest amounts from the districts that have the highest needs. That’s why the cuts are more than $200 per student in some districts and less than $20 for students in others.

These estimated new cuts will also come on top of many years of under-funding transportation. For 2016-17, the budget provided roughly 38% less than the real costs, so every district got 38% less than it needed. For 2018-19, the new cuts recommended by the Governor’s requested cut could take another 37% out of each district’s funding.

 For the work of moving Kentucky toward educational excellence with equity, these anti-equity cuts would be a big step in the wrong direction.

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