Rhode Island House leaders say they plan to restore more than $2 million taken out of the governor’s budget to pay for private school bussing and text books.
House Finance Committee Chair Raymond Gallison Jr., recalls the funding was helpful to his family when his two sons were in private school.
“They got the bus. I went one way, my wife went another way and getting to the private school that they were going to, this certainly was something that was of great assistance to us,” said Gallison.
Some school committee members have questioned the practice, pointing out that a district like Pawtucket has to pay for bussing for private school students when it does not provide bussing for its own students.
When asked how he would respond to that type of complaint, Gallison said the practice saves money for school districts because it allows more families to send their children to private school. Gallison believes without the funding, more children would attend public school, which would add to the cost of public schools.
Other states that provide public funding for private school transportation include Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Governor Gina Raimondo's spokeswoman Marie Aberger offered this response to the proposed change in the governor's budget:
The Governor is proud to have submitted a balanced budget that closes an inherited $190 million deficit while making significant investments in growth, including record investments in K-12 education; the full implementation of all-day kindergarten across the state; and funding for dual enrollment, last dollar scholarships, loan forgiveness and workforce development. Her proposed budget strengthens these initiatives without any broad-based tax increases, which meant some tough choices needed to be made.
The Governor respects the legislative process and knows the General Assembly will make adjustments as her jobs budget moves forward. She looks forward to continuing work together to strengthen our state and set our students on a path of opportunity.
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