Request for $12M for buses postponed until next month


POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

The state Board of Education stepped back from requesting $12 million in emergency appropriations from the Legislature to keep school activity buses rolling.

The board deferred action until Dec. 3 last night after some members said they were worried about public and legislative reaction to a request for more money in a difficult budgetary year.

Board member Breene Harimoto suggested looking at increasing bus fares and controlling the cost of bus contracts, which rose to about $49 million in fiscal 2010 from $34.6 million in fiscal 2007.

“;I just feel our priorities are a little out of whack,”; Harimoto said. “;We need to make tough decisions here.”;

Board members were scheduled last night to consider asking the Legislature for a $12 million emergency supplemental appropriation and an additional $20 million for fiscal year 2011.

The board did include the $20 million in its fiscal 2011 supplemental budget, increasing the Department of Education's annual operating budget to $246.85 million.

Randy Moore, education assistant superintendent for facilities, said the cost of student transportation contracts has been rising by about 15 percent per year.

He said the extra funds were needed to operate the buses beyond March. Consolidation of routes and 17 Furlough Fridays without school have saved the state about $6 million, he said, but more funds are needed to provide bus transportation.