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CSBA’s transportation COLA bill passes Senate Ed Committee 

With a 6-0 vote, CSBA’s sponsored Senate Bill 527 (Galgiani, D-Stockton) was passed by the Senate Education Committee this morning. The vote is a key milestone for CSBA’s bill, which would add an annual statutory cost-of-living adjustment for home-to-school transportation, a long-overdue funding increase for an issue that continues to pose mounting cost challenges for LEA’s throughout California, with small and rural school districts being hit especially 

Addressing the committee, Sen. Galgiani cited 2014 figures showing that California LEAs spent $1.4 billion on transportation, with only $492 million allocated from the state to cover those costs.  

“The cost pressures of transportation are growing for many school districts and county offices, so it is important that home-to-school transportation allocations reflect that,” said Teri Burns, CSBA legislative advocate.

“This has been an issue that is a ‘limbo stage’ for home-to-school transportation, it isn’t exactly part of LCFF and it isn’t exactly a categorical. It’s a complicated formula and there need to be adjustments, but in the meantime we want to see transportation keep pace with inflation.”

While the proposed 2017-18 budget does provide a 1.48 percent COLA for categorical programs outside of LCFF, a COLA for transportation is not included. No COLA has been included and there has been no rate increase for home-to-school transportation since 2012, the first year of LCFF.

“There have been no cost-of-living or other increases given to local education agencies for home-to-school transportation, despite the obvious increases in personnel, insurance, fuel and other cost-of-living related increases over the last five years,” Sen. Galgiani told the committee. “Reliable transportation is crucial in areas throughout the state, and the need can vary depending on geography, neighborhood safety, access to after school programs and other socio-economic circumstances.”

A home-to-school transportation COLA is one of CSBA’s top 2017-18 legislative priorities. As school districts in less densely populated areas typically bear exorbitantly higher costs to transport their students to and from school, a COLA is essential for small and rural districts to continue to provide this vital service. 

Having cleared the Senate Education Committee, SB 527 has now been referred to Senate Appropriations.