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Missouri Law Will Reduce Funding for More than 630,000 Public School Students

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In April 2014, Missouri Lawmakers passed an important early childhood education bill with bi-partisan support. The passage of HB 1689 made it possible for schools to count pre-kindergarten students who qualify for free and reduced lunches in their in their daily attendance calculations in order to draw state funding.

Learn what the State Adequacy Target is here.

Unfortunately, this bill — a bill that began with good intentions — ultimately exceeded its original scope and intent. Although it was designed to support early childhood education, the wording of the bill placed education funding at stake for more than two-thirds of Missouri’s students.

Subsection 8 of section 128.031 says that:

“Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, in any fiscal year during which the total formula appropriation is insufficient to fully fund the entitlement calculation of this section, the department of elementary and secondary education shall adjust the state adequacy target in order to accommodate the appropriation level for the given fiscal year. In no manner shall any payment modification be rendered for any district qualified to receive payments under subsection 2 of this section based on insufficient appropriations.”

What this wording establishes is that if the state doesn’t meet education funding goals in 2015, a lot of students in Missouri could see funding in their district redistributed to other districts.

Exactly how many is “a lot”? Based on our estimates, 639,000 students will see a decrease in funding if Missouri fails to increase funding for the Foundation Formula during the 2015 legislative session.

Learn more: Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

The nuances of this clause create a questionable situation for Missouri schools. Missouri’s 193 hold harmless districts are guaranteed to see a 3.2% funding increase next year while 295 districts will lose anywhere from a fraction of a percent to 10% in state funding. Finally, 32 districts will become hold harmless districts, meaning that they’ll see increases of up to 3.2% in state aid.

What Does HB1689 Mean for Your Child?

If your child is one of the approximately 242,000 students in hold harmless districts, your child’s school district will see an increase in funding in 2015. If your child is one of the 639,000 students not attending school in a hold harmless district, that district could lose up to 10% of its state funding.

To see exactly how much money your child’s district will gain or lose, see this chart published by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

HB1689 creates an unequal funding environment for Missouri’s school districts, but legislators probably won’t repeal the bill. For all districts to receive equal funding, the General Assembly must appropriate approximately $125 million more toward the Foundation Formula than was appropriated in the current fiscal year.

This funding will fully fund the $6,131 per student State Adequacy Target, and will prevent money from being redistributed away from the more than half-a-million students attending school in districts that are not qualified as hold harmless.

What Can I Do?

A student in one district should not be hurt at the expense of students in another. Contact your legislators and tell them that the Missouri Foundation Formula needs $125 million now to fix the self-inflicted wound created by HB 1689 and to ensure that all students in Missouri have access to equal public educational opportunities.

Find my Missouri Senator.
Find my Missouri House Representative.

3550 Amazonas Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109. 573-638-4825

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