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Exciting News for the Missouri School Funding Formula

Governor Jay Nixon talks with Senator David Pearce, chairman of the Missouri Senate Education Committee.

State funding is a problem in Missouri’s public schools, but that may be about to change.

The Challenges

There are two complex pieces in the funding puzzle surrounding state funding for Missouri’s public schools.

First, Missouri contributes less to public education than other states in the nation do. The bulk of school funding — more than 59% — comes from local sources (the national average for local funding for public schools is 37%.)

This means that students living in relatively wealthier parts of the state are likely to attend better-funded schools than students living in relatively poorer parts of Missouri are. The Missouri Foundation Formula aims to correct this discrepancy, but needs full funding to be successful. That leads us to the second funding challenge facing the state:

Missouri should have reached full funding for the school Foundation Formula (written in 2005) by 2013, but for reasons not limited to a struggling economy, we’re still more than $600 million short of fully funding our schools.

The Kansas City Star explained the funding formula problem in a story last week:

“Missouri’s current budget provides almost $3.1 billion in basic aid to elementary and secondary schools. That’s an increase of $66 million over the previous year but still falls about $600 million short of what is called for in Missouri’s school funding formula, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said Tuesday.”

The Good News

The good news is that from local school districts all the way up to Governor Nixon, pressure is being directed toward Missouri’s legislators to meet the Missouri Foundation Formula.

Each year, Springfield Public Schools generates a legislative priorities list, communicating its concerns to the Missouri General Assembly. School funding is high up on the district’s 2014 legislative priority list.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has also requested full funding for the Foundation Formula:

“Full funding for the Foundation Formula will help schools provide students with the knowledge and skills they need for success in college, other post-secondary training, and careers,” says Chris L. Nicastro, Missouri Commissioner of Education.

Perhaps the most exciting recent push for funding came from Governor Jay Nixon over the past week. Nixon has made it his goal to see Missouri’s schools reach full funding before he leaves office in 2017 (term limits will prevent his re-election at that time).

Full funding for Missouri’s schools is a critical step towards providing our state’s public school students with an equal and adequate education no matter where in the state they live.

To learn more about how public schools are funded in Missouri, read these posts on the Missouri Parent Blog:

· Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?
· State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools
· The Missouri Lottery Funds Missouri Public Schools

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