SPECIAL REPORT: Taken for a ride - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SPECIAL REPORT: Taken for a ride

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The money school districts pay to get students to and from school can put a dent in the budget.

Some schools have to spend nearly 10 percent of their annual budget just on transportation costs, while other districts can get by with allocating much less of their budget on transportation.

So why the difference?

School districts get a certain amount of money from the state's general fund every year, and it's based on enrollment numbers.

So, often times, rural schools with fewer students will get less money from the state.

Since school districts are obligated to provide transportation to students living a certain distance away from school, many rural districts are left paying more because 1) they don't get as much money from the state due to enrollment numbers, and 2) they have to shell out more money for transportation costs because they have longer routes.

It might not seem fair if you're a taxpayer in a rural district, compared to someone living in a more urban area.

For example, districts like Western Dubuque and Urbandale will get nearly the same amount of money from the state because they have similar enrollment numbers, but Western Dubuque's school district covers nearly 555 square miles, while Urbandale's district is only six square miles.

As you can imagine, Western Dubuque pays much more money for transportation costs, because there's much more ground to cover.

Therefore, taxpayers in the Western Dubuque School District, regardless if they have students in school, will be shelling out more of their tax dollars for transportation costs.

If you'd like to review the data and see where your district ranks in enrollment numbers and transportation costs, you can click here.

Coming up Thursday at 10 p.m. on News 7 KWWL, we will dig deeper into these transportation costs.

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