LANSING, Mich., June 30, 2023 — Through the passage of Senate Bill 173, state Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City) has secured $125 million to ensure that rural school districts across Michigan will receive more equitable transportation funding for the current year, as well as to create a fund to support these needs in the future. Her floor speech urging her colleagues to support the funding is available here.
“Previous funding models for school transportation did not account for the unique challenges that rural districts face, and that has unfortunately resulted in our students being shortchanged on classroom resources, impacting our ability to support student success, mental health and wellbeing,” said Coffia. “Rural school districts often face greater fuel and vehicle depreciation costs than more densely-populated school districts, and funding is often pulled from classrooms to meet these needs. It’s long past time that we move toward more equitable funding for rural schools so that our students can compete on a level playing field.”
Coffia previously introduced House Bill 4335 to address the need for equitable funding for rural school transportation on a tiered per-pupil, per-mile basis. HB 4335 received bipartisan co-sponsorship before being referred to the House Committee on Appropriations. The following day, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Education held a preliminary hearing on equitable rural school transportation as they prepared to craft the state’s School Aid budget. SB 173 later incorporated the ideas behind HB 4335 and passed as the state’s finalized fiscal year 2023-24 state School Aid budget. SB 173 now heads to Gov. Whitmer’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.