The Columbia Public Schools District is planning for transportation costs to increase next school year.
Transportation costs rise about 1.5 percent per year, but board member Jonathan Sessions said recent attendance area changes will cause a projected 3 percent increase next school year.
“Even though the state isn’t compensating us to the level that they should be, we are still obligated to provide transportation,” Sessions said. “It’s a mandate that’s becoming an unfunded one.”
Transportation costs an average of $12.5 million per year and the state has reimbursed about $2 million per year on average, said Sessions.
He said the school district must look to other budget areas to pull money, and if the state funding trends continue, it could eventually impact the classroom.
“We have a five-year model, and within two years, we’re going to be in a deficit spending,” Sessions said.
State Rep. Chuck Bayse, R-Rocheport, said lawmakers do the best they can with the resources they have available.
“Transportation, that’s an area that we should try to do better,” Bayse said. “Unfortunately, the revenue is not there, and that’s just the reality.”
The state allocated $2.3 million toward transportation for the 2017-18 school year. The school district is projecting a more conservative $2 million for next school year.
The Columbia Board of Education will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m.