BOSTON — The fiscal year 2015 budget signed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick last month includes an $18.7 million increase for regional school transportation.
The move bumps Massachusetts’ school transportation funding level up 36%, from about $51.3 million to $70 million, which administration officials said is the highest-ever level of state investment in school bus service.
The pupil transportation funding increase is part of a $36.5 billion fiscal year budget that Patrick approved on July 11.
“When we invest in education, innovation and infrastructure, we create jobs and opportunity in the near term and strengthen our commonwealth for the long term,” Patrick said. “This budget continues to support that strategy and to fund the services necessary to improve the quality of people’s lives.”
Last week, state Sen. Richard Moore and Sen. Stephen Brewer joined regional school leaders to celebrate the increase in regional school transportation reimbursements in the state budget. An event was held in Dudley at Shepherd Hill Regional High School, headquarters of the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District.
“While we still have a way to go to finally keep the promise of full reimbursement for regional school transportation, I am proud that this year’s budget comes very close to the goal,” Brewer said. “The improving state economy, the record of prudent fiscal management that has given Massachusetts its highest bond rating in history, and increased revenues have given us the ability to raise the level of reimbursement for school transportation.”
Officials said that the total appropriation for regional school transportation reimbursements represents 90% of the cost of transportation for school districts.
The six regional school districts serving students from the Worcester and Norfolk district, which Moore represents in the Senate, will share around $6.2 million in state reimbursements for the 2014-15 school year. This represents an increase of about $1.6 million over the previous school year, according to estimates provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.