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Early education budget includes additional transportation funds

Austin Pacheco

An early version of the state’s education budget includes $150 million in additional funding for transportation and targets rural school districts.

If passed in its current form, the funds would be distributed based on a new formula based on the average transportation cost per rider and number of square miles in the district.

The Chippewa Hills School District in mid-Michigan is one of the districts that would make a significant impact.

It’s the second largest geographic school district in the lower peninsula.

Superintendent Bob Grover said transportation costs for the entire district have been as high as 5% of the district’s total budget. He said buses travel nearly 2,000 miles a day to transport students.

"You can have an East Grand Rapids district that's bigger than we are. But it only covers three square miles, or, four square miles. And as opposed to us, we only have 1850 kids. But we're 400 square miles," said Grover.

The provision was originally proposed by Democratic Representative Betsy Coffia, who represents Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Benzie Counties.

The House appropriations committee has advanced the bill for a second reading.

Rick joined WCMU as a general assignment reporter in March 2022.