METCO has moved its headquarters into a new office in Roxbury, but the voluntary school desegregation program could be expanding its operations well beyond there.

Eight suburban districts in the metro area have expressed interest in joining METCO, the state-funded program’s president, Milly Arbaje-Thomas, indicated Tuesday at the new office's opening in Nubian Square.

METCO, which began in 1966 with seven districts, currently buses more than 3,000 Black and Latino students from Boston and Springfield to 33 suburban school districts.

Arbaje-Thomas said, historically, new interest in participating has been prompted by social shifts related to race, such as the nationwide protests that followed the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“When George Floyd was killed last year, 12 communities reached out and said, ‘we want to join the METCO program,’” she said. “When Martin Luther King was assassinated, it happened and, now, at the same way, people are saying, ‘we’re not diverse enough in this community. We feel like we can actually help.’”

Colin Stokes, METCO’s director of communications, outreach and engagement, said the program has received email correspondence that contained “12 inquiries, but they represent" eight different towns and cities.

Stokes declined to name them, saying their school committees have not publicly announced their interest.

Arbaje-Thomas said a process to expand METCO is not in place because doing so depends on an increase in state funding. Its budget is currently more than $25 million, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Right now the state funding that we receive, it covers our current 33 districts and it’s still not enough,” said Arbaje-Thomas. “So we wouldn’t actually expand without the legislature giving us money for the purpose of expansion.”

It would be up to the state senators and representatives from those interested towns to push for additional funding.

State Education Secretary Jim Peyser said at the Tuesday event that METCO is an “essential part” of the urban public school system in Boston as it provides parents with another educational option to address their children's needs.

Although she represents parts of Boston, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz has been on the frontline of that push as co-chair of the METCO Legislative Caucus.

“I do fight tooth and nail to the last minute every year in the budget for the dollars for the METCO line up,” said Chang-Diaz at the office opening Tuesday.

Chang-Diaz, who has announced her Democratic candidacy for governor, said she is looking forward to expanding the program for future students.

Correction: Because of inaccurate information initially provided to GBH News, this article has been corrected to state eight suburban districts have expressed interest in joining Metco, rather than nine.