Opening debate in the House on his bill, HB 256, House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “The purpose is to make districts be as efficient as possible.” Transportation costs are “overhead,” he said. “Each dollar spent on transportation is a dollar that doesn’t make it into the classroom. … That’s where education takes place.” He said the idea is to cut the state reimbursement to school districts from 85 percent of their busing costs to 50 percent, but still give the districts the same money through state budget-setting, so they’d have an incentive to make better use of their busing money. The bill also makes a change in the reimbursement rules that’d cost the Boise school district nearly $1.5 million, and bans any state reimbursement to districts for busing for field trips, permanently. Overall, the state would save $4.1 million next year. Nonini said in a future year, lawmakers could “re-do this legislation so that when times are better we will bring back money for field trips.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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