MADISON — The Department of Public Instruction distributed $7.5 million in aid to districts with above-average student transportation costs last month through the High Cost Transportation Aid program.
Districts were eligible for high cost transportation aid if their transportation costs exceed 150 percent of the statewide average cost per member, which was $418.87 per student. Additionally, student membership within the district must have been 50 students or fewer per square mile. Aid is based on audited information from the previous fiscal year (2014-15) and was paid June 20.
“High Cost Transportation Aid continues to be an important state support to our public school districts, allowing them to focus resources on student learning,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “However, this aid program is not yet fully funded, meaning districts get less aid than they are eligible to receive, putting pressure on academic programming for students in our small, rural school districts.”
The High Cost Transportation Aid program was approved in the 2013‑15 budget as a way to reduce disproportionately high transportation expenses in some, mostly rural, school districts. The 2015‑17 state budget increased the aid allocation from $5 million to $7.5 million and added a sparsity factor to target the aid to districts experiencing the greatest need for state support in transporting students.
This year, 128 districts will receive funding through the High Cost Transportation Aid program. Districts meeting the statutory criteria submitted $12.4 million in eligible costs resulting in the $7.5 million allocation being prorated at 60.4 percent. Of the districts receiving this categorical aid, 24 received over $100,000; 30 received between $50,000 and $100,000; 63 received between $5,000 and $50,000; and 11 received less than $5,000.
NOTES: A list of school districts that received High Cost Transportation Aid is in the official news release. More information about High Cost Transportation Aid can be found on the department’s School Financial Services Categorical Aid website.