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Local schools react to Missouri governor proposing more transportation spending

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Missouri Governor Mike Parson is asking lawmakers to put more money towards helping your kids get to school everyday.

He's suggesting an additional 10-million dollars be put towards schools transportation funding.

At Palmyra R-1 School District, busses travel long distances on rural gravel roads every day, and require a lot of money to operate.

School administrators say they don't get much help paying for that.

"I would say around 700 miles a day between black tops and gravel roads," said Palmyra Transportation Director Brian Wosman.

He said they're always performing maintenance on the buses, replacing tires, lights, and repairing engines so they can hold on to them for as long as they can.

"We're holding on to buses for about 18 years," said Wosman, "I would say in Missouri the average for school buses is around 13 years."

While school administrators said what they receive right now helps them replace one of the buses every year, it doesn't do much more than that.

"State statue requires that the state provide 75% of 100% of our costs every year, so with a $520,000 budget, that would be about $390,000," said Palmyra R-1 Superintendent Kirt Malone, "last year we received about $85,000."

Malone said that's why he's glad to hear state legislators might increase funding for transportation.

Although as of right now he doesn't know how much each district would see.

"Our hope is that this $10 million comes through this year and the state can continue to increase transportation funding down the road so we can get to that 75% threshold," said Malone.

He said much of that money is spent from the schools' personal funds that could go towards other things like classrooms.

"Our drivers and also the kids that are on the buses, we don't want something to break down out there in the middle of a route or out on a trip, that we end up having kids stranded somewhere," said Wosman.

Malone said one of the critical aspects of funding is being able to anticipate how much you'll have to work with so you can budget more effectively.

Governor Parson also proposed that lawmakers continue to fully fund the state's school formula at around $3.6-billion.

There are 518 school districts across the state of Missouri.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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