×

Union 38 asks for state transportation funding



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

DEERFIELD — District officials from Union 38 schools are calling on state legislators to uphold their end of the bargain and fully fund regional transportation costs.

“I write to respectfully request your support of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71, Section 16C, which calls for the full reimbursement of transportation costs for regional school districts for transporting students who live over 1.5 miles from school,” said Union 38 Superintendent Lynn Carey in a letter mailed to state legislators.

To encourage rural towns to form more efficient regional school districts in the 1960s, the state promised to cover transportation costs. But that promise has only been met four times since 1978. Instead, reimbursements have averaged about 73 percent, and in 2004 the reimbursement rate dipped below 50 percent.

Last year, when the reimbursement was 73 percent, Frontier Regional School lost $73,258 in transportation costs according to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data.

Carey noted that regional schools are required to provide all students with transportation, and cited a recent report from State Auditor Suzanne Bump calling on legislators to completely reimburse transportation costs for regional schools.

“Costs associated with transporting in a regional school district are a large part of the budget because of the geographical footprint associated with bus routes across numerous communities,” Carey wrote.

This coming budget year, “to fully fund regional transportation, the state would need to increase the amount currently allocated by approximately $24 million over the FY17 reimbursement rate of 73 percent,” Carey wrote. “This amount represents a small portion of Massachusetts’ $40 billion FY18 budget.”

The letter, which is modeled after one crafted by the superintendent covering Wachusett, will be mailed to many local and state politicians including House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Gov. Charlie Baker, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.