Proposed education budget could help school transportation, other funds
ASHLAND - The Missouri State Education Board outlined a budget that would increase transportation funding for Missouri schools.
"The budget is underfunded and it has been for years," Nancy Bowels, Communications Coordinator for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said.
Schools currently pay for their own transportation, then get reimbursed by the state to offset some of the costs. Missouri law allows the state to pay for up to 75% of a school's transportation costs, but the state currently only reimburses schools for 26% of the costs.
Chris Felmlee, superintendent for the Southern Boone County school district, said these costs could be put to better use.
"I would love to reinvest that money into an early childhood center, expanded classroom, or a vocational wing," Felmlee said.
Instead, Felmlee's district pays for transportation with their "general fund." This fund also helps pay teacher's salaries.
Felmlee said more money from the state directly impact the number of teachers he could hire.
"Because we are expanding, we have a huge class and we are running out of classroom space," Felmlee said.
Vanda Rice is a grandparent of a student at Southern Boone Elementary School. She said she hopes the legislature passes the budget as is.
"Any way we could raise more money for schools, that's a good thing," Rice said.
Rice said she wants to see this money invested in gifted students.
"They get a little bit here and there, but they don't get a true challenged gifted program," Rice said.
Bowels says transportation is an even bigger issue for rural communities, where busses need to cover more area.
The proposed education budget has to go through the Governor and the General Assembly before being approved for 2020.