House bill would reduce out-ofdistrict school transportation costs
Rep. Bruce J. Long (R-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) testified recently before the House Committee on Finance and urged the committee to approve a bill he has introduced to fully reimburse local school districts for out-of-district transportation of students that is mandated by state law.
The bill, 2007-H 5917, was held by the committee for further study.
Representative Long, the House Deputy Minority Whip, told the committee the costs of out-of-district transportation are a significant burden on school districts, and especially smaller school districts such as Jamestown, at a time when school districts around the state are facing severe budget problems.
According to Representative Long, Jamestown spends about
240,000 to bus the student population of its own district (which includes the off-island bus runs to North Kingstown High School, which is the Jamestown high school of record). By contrast, the district spends $317,000 for other off-island transportation of students, including $117,000 to bus students to out-of-district private and parochial schools and about $200,000 to bus special needs students to off-island programs. The combined total transportation costs for Jamestown, he said, are greater than what the district receives in state aid to education.
"This bill is about fairness to the local districts," said Long. "If the state mandates districts to provide transportation to schools outside the district, it should pay for those mandates."
Jamestown School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser was unable to attend the hearing but did submit written testimony on the bill.
The Long bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Peter L. Lewiss (D-Dist. 37, Westerly) and Rep. John J. Loughlin II (R-Dist. 71, Tiverton, Little Compton, Portsmouth)