OLYMPIA, Wash. — The State Legislature on Friday passed an operating budget that provides substantially more funding for student transportation in the coming biennium.
A new funding system for school transportation operations was implemented in Washington state beginning with the 2011-12 school year. Officials said that the new system was an important step in the legislative commitment to meet the state constitutional requirement to fully fund basic education, which includes transportation.
While the new funding system was implemented, the $110 million required to fully fund the system was not appropriated. A transition process was put in place with an additional $4.2 million provided in the 2011-12 school year and $2.8 million in the 2012-13 school year. Total funding for student transportation operations in 2012-13 was $265.2 million, with expenditures of approximately $405 million.
Now, with the new biennial budget, the Legislature committed to providing an additional $42.8 million for the 2013-14 school year, or approximately 40% of the existing statewide underfunding.
In the 2014-15 school year, an additional $65.4 million is provided to fully fund the new allocation system. The total appropriation for student transportation operations will then be approximately $377 million.
During the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, funding provided for capital costs (purchasing school buses) will be approximately $50 million per year for district-owned fleets and $7 million per year for school districts that contract services.