House Shelves Effort to Provide Charter School Transportation Vouchers

Proposal not ready for prime time according to committee chair

An attempt by some state House Republicans to ease the financial burden of charter schools that provide transportation failed to make it into the final version of the coming year’s education budget. Some regular school districts would also have been eligible.

The language to provide money was removed by a House-Senate conference committee. The budget had to that point established as the “intent of the legislature” that some state and federal money go to reimburse charter schools that provide transportation for students to and from school, or that provide transportation vouchers.

Regular school districts that accept students from adjacent jurisdictions under a cross-district Schools of Choice program would also be eligible for these grants. Current law does not require or pay for transportation for charter school students. Neither does it provide funding for regular district students who travel to another jurisdiction.

Rep. Tim Kelly R-Saginaw Township, who chairs the school aid subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, said the measure wasn’t developed enough to be included in the final budget.

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He said that if a student has an opportunity to attend a better school, charter or otherwise, “we should be able to get them there.” Speaking of the need for the student to get to another school, he said, “I’m trying to get to something like a transportation voucher and we’re just not there yet.”

The measure was intended to lower barriers to using public school choice options. Currently, a lack of transportation stops many students in the lowest income bracket who might benefit from school choice opportunities, according to Ben DeGrow, who studies education policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, declined a request for comment.


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