Sen. Mark Segebart
Sen. Mark Segebart
August 23, 2013

The two legislators who represent Carroll County in the Iowa Legislature say they'll advocate increased state funding for non-public school transportation.

At a Carroll Community School Board meeting Monday the issue came to the fore as public school officials discussed busing reimbursement issues with the Kuemper Catholic School System.

In the last fiscal year, the Iowa Legislature appropriated $7 million to the non-public transportation reimbursement fund, said Iowa Department of Education communications director Staci Hupp. Hupp said the department received $10 million in reimbursement requests for that period. The department is forced to pro-rate the reimbursements equally to all districts that seek them, she said.

Bottom line: the lack of state money is placed more burden on the Carroll Community School District.

"Rural property taxpayers are paying property tax for education whether they're public or private," said State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail.

Segebart, a farmer and substitute school bus driver for Ar-We-Va, said he would push for increasing to-class busing dollars for private-school students. Additionally, he supports extending state reimbursement to cover extracurricular transportation for non-public students.

"That's something I think the state needs to help out with," Segebart said.

Segebart said there is strong support among Senate Republicans for improving a variety of non-public school programs.

State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, said he supports an overhaul to state funding for busing that would benefit all of rural Iowa, for both public and private students.

What's more, he said K-12 education in Iowa in general needs more dollars, which would allow districts to absorb more costs associated with transporting non-public school students - a task mandated by Iowa law. He blamed GOP Gov. Terry Branstad for blocking stepped-up state support to schools.

"We're fighting all the way across the board to try to get more funding for our schools," Muhlbauer said.

He said total funding for public schools is "too tight," forcing school districts like Carroll to look at increases to private schools for busing costs.

Muhlbauer said he would have to see specific proposals before supporting any plan to extend state-mandated transportation of non-public students for reasons outside instructional purposes.

"It's hard to come and say, 'Yeah, I'd support it.' I'd have to see real numbers," Muhlbauer said.