August 23, 2013

It has a "cry-wolf" (or "Groundhog Day") quality to it. We hear local elected officials complain about the state - and the state complain about the federal government.

The great Henry Ford had a brilliant line about complaining. Don't do it.

But Carroll Community School District board members and their friends in the Kuemper system should be complaining, with passion and persistence to our lawmakers about the state's lack of funding for the non-public school-busing fund.

On Monday, Carroll Community School District and Kuemper officials exchanged some strained words over the district's plan to increase the per-mile cost for busing Kuemper students to certain activities.

We see no value in refereeing such crosstown friction.

The problem here isn't with Carroll or Kuemper. It is with the state.

By law, public school districts are required to provide transportation related to the instruction of non-public school students.

But when it comes time for the state to pay the bills, there isn't enough money for the Iowa Department of Education to reimburse our public school systems.



Our legislators didn't appropriate adequate funds.

The Iowa Department of Education received $10 million in reimbursement requests for the $7 million non-public transportation fund last fiscal year.

The Carroll Community School District in fiscal year 2011-2012 requested $294,890 - the full cost of transporting Kuemper students for instructional purposes - from the state for non-public school transportation route miles and received back 69 percent of that request, or $202,093. The remaining $92,797 was covered through general-fund money in the Carroll Community School District - money that could have paid for more teachers or books or any number of educational advancements.

What's more, the state doesn't provide money for non-classroom activity transportation for private schools. That ought to change.

This is an issue of central - and obvious - importance for our full community. It presents a rare moment for a unified Carroll voice across partisan and demographic lines.

The Carroll public and Kuemper communities should turn friction over busing reimbursement to joint force and push State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, and State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla.

It's their job to deliver on this. The political opportunities are there to build support for a bi-partisan solution.

We talked to both Segebart and Muhlbauer this week after the school board session and know they understand the issue and its impact on Carroll.

They need to hear from others in Carroll, too.