Gov. Greitens announcement last month to cut $146.4 million to balance Missouri’s budget hit education the hardest. Among the proposed cuts was $8.6 million in transportation funding, which affects school districts statewide. State Rep.Kathy Swan, who is on the budget committee said this could leave some districts in a tough spot.
“That money goes into one pot with the schools,” Swan said. “And if we cannot restore that then they’re going to have some tough decisions to make locally in their districts as to how to get these students to school, so they can learn and how to get them back home.”
School districts statewide took a 4 percent cut in transportation funding. As a result, districts like the Cape Girardeau Public school district are taking a hard look at their budgets for the 2017 fiscal year. Dr. Neil Glass is the assistant superintendent for Cape Girardeau Public Schools. He said budget cuts are nothing new for the district.
“Our budget is designed on a certain forecast for the year, and when that forecast doesn’t meet projections it causes us to re-examine where we’re at,” Glass said.
The district spends a little more than $1 million on transportation for extracurricular activities, academic trips and daily bus routes. For the 2017 fiscal year, the Cape Girardeau Public school district projected to receive nearly $200,000 in transportation funding from the state, which would help fund the 30 buses the district uses. Glass said despite the 4 percent cut, the district has a safety net in place.
“We wanted to make sure that these students get to school, and so we will absorb this funding cut through our general operating funds,” Glass said.
With that in mind, Glass said the district has no plans to downsize the number of buses and will continue to meet the transportation needs of its students.