Buses may halt for Iowa City Regina

Gregg Hennigan
Published: November 25 2009 | 7:05 am - Updated: 30 March 2014 | 2:27 pm in
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IOWA CITY - Please work with us.

That was the message Tuesday night from eight Iowa City Regina parents and school officials who addressed the Iowa City school board on the public school district’s decision to stop busing Regina students next school year. About 80 people in all were at the meeting.

Click here to read our story about the meeting.

Most of the speakers hit on the idea of community, saying just because they were Regina supporters didn’t mean they weren’t public school supporters. They also asked Iowa City school district officials to work with Regina officials on coming up with a compromise.

Board members did not make any commitment to do so but did ask staff to bring more information to a future meeting.

The matter comes down to money for Iowa City, with the school district already making cuts to its budget when the recent 10 percent across-the-board cut from the state cost it another $5.6 million.

“I hate to say it’s a matter of dollars, but this time, it is,” Superintendent Lane Plugge said.

I spoke with Regina President Carol Trueg before the meeting. She said she understood the Iowa City school district, like virtually every school system in the state, is under financial distress. At the meeting, she told the school board that this decision could cost the district more than the “small percentage” of its budget it saves.

Back in our pre-meeting talk, Trueg said she had spoken with district administrators and board members about how they could find a solution. When I asked her if the door was still open, she said she wasn’t sure.

She stressed, however, that Regina and the Iowa City school district have had a great working relationship.

For anyone interested in more information, the Iowa Department of Education has a good rundown on reimbursements here.

I also traded some e-mails with the department spokeswoman, Elaine Watkins-Miller. I had to summarize a lot of the information she gave me in the story, but some items from her folks may be interested in:

  • Last year, families were reimbursed $199 per student each semester for up to three elementary students and one high school student, with a supplemental rate of $26 per family if they transport their son/daughter more than four miles. This year’s rate has not been set
  • District reimbursement is determined by each district’s cost per student transported, so every individual district is different. 
  • The school districts are reimbursed for transporting non-public students.  The reimbursement, as a general rule, does not cover the full cost of transporting these students because the amount of claims runs higher than the amount of the appropriation for this program.  The amount appropriated last year was $8.7 million.  Districts and parents received less than 87% of their claims as all claims were reduced by a fraction over 13% to make the appropriation stretch to cover all claims. 

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