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Everything listed under: Funding

  • Missouri Legislature 2015 Wrap-Up Post

     

    The First Regular Session of the 98th Missouri General Assembly ended on May 15th. During the 4.5-month-long session, a number of bills affecting Missouri public schools were the subjects of debate. From budgets to bullying to school transfer law, here’s a summary of the biggest education-related bills of the session.

    State Budget Approval & the Foundation Formula
    Congress passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget. The budget, which will go into effect July 1st, includes an $84 million increase in funding for the Foundation Formula. Despite the increase, the Formula remains under-funded by more than $440 million.

    Learn more: Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    Supplemental Budget Approval
    The state’s supplemental budget bill, which helps cover unexpected expenses in the current year, was passed during the legislative session. The bill allocated $3.78 million to K-12 schools and $3.4 million to early childhood special education programs.

    A+ Funding for Illegal Immigrants
    Legislators passed a bill that will exclude illegal immigrants from qualifying for Missouri A+ Program scholarship funding. The bill was designed to ensure that residents have state scholarship funding priority. Opponents of the bill are concerned that students brought to the United States as children are being punished unfairly and prevented from achieving higher education goals. (Source)

    Learn more: Missouri’s A+ Program Benefits Thousands Each Year

    Higher Education Funding
    HB3 increases funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions by $12 million. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

    School Transfers
    Legislature passed a school transfer bill (HB42) that opponents hope will be vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. The bill, which would expand charter and virtual schools in the state, would also affect accreditation and school transfer.

    Under the bill, individual schools — not entire school districts — would earn accreditation. Students would be able to transfer from a failing school to an accredited school in their home districts. If an accredited school doesn’t exist in the student’s district, the student could still transfer outside the district.

    Failing schools would still be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for transfer students. The bill placed no limits on the cost of tuition charged by receiving districts. (Source)

    Learn more: School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

    Day Care Bill
    SB341, which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, requires day care centers to establish safe sleep policies and to disclose registration of unvaccinated children. The bill also establishes reporting procedures for juveniles with sexual behavior issues. (Source)

    Bullying
    A prominent anti-bullying bill didn’t survive the session. HB458 would have made school anti-bullying policy requirements stricter. The bill defined bullying and cyber bullying, and called for schools to play a more active role in suicide prevention. Many schools already have already enacted written anti-bullying policies on their own, but the bill would have legally required them to do so. (Source)

    Learn more: Bullying in Schools: How Adults Can Help

    A New President for the State Board of Education
    Unrelated to lawmaking, but coinciding with the legislative session, the State Board of Education elected a new president, Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, to replace former president Peter Herschend. Shields is the Chief Operating Officer at Truman Medical Centers, and served 20 years in the Missouri General Assembly. (Source)

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. We aim to provide accurate and timely information on education funding and legislative issues that impact public education.

    To continue to learn about policies affecting your child’s Missouri public school education, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.


  • What is a Debt Service Levy?

     

    Each year, dozens of Missouri school districts use bond issues to pay for school improvements. Since the bond is borrowed money that’s backed by the full faith and credit of the community, the community must have a plan for how to pay bond debt back. Enter the debt service levy.

    Debt service levies are property tax levies used by communities to repay bonds. It’s common to see levy information written in cents-to-the dollar. For example, an Independence, Missouri bond issue was paired with a debt service levy of $0.85 to $1.

    That doesn’t mean that property owners would have owed just $0.85 or $1 each if the bond passed. Instead, it meant that property owners would owe $0.85 or $1 in taxes for every one hundred dollars of value that their property was assessed at. That particular bond was for $85 million in capital projects for the district.

    What does that look like for the average taxpayer?

    It means that if the final debt service levy was $0.85, then a property with property assessed at $50,000 would owe $425 per year in property taxes toward the debt service levy. That tax would help the district to repay the $85 million bond that helped improve its schools.

    Learn More: Read Missouri’s Law Governing Tax Levies and Bonded Indebtedness.

    Note: Most districts are required to set and publish their tax rates by September 1st. Other districts are required to report by October 1st.

    To continue to learn more about how your taxes affect public school funding in Missouri, please bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Have a topic you’d like to hear more about? Let us know by leaving a comment here or on Facebook.


  • Tools to Use: State Auditor’s Bond List

     

    The Missouri State Auditor's website lists every General Obligation (GO) Bond issued in Missouri since 1999, with a few exceptions. If you want to know what school bonds have been issued in your child’s district — or in a district where your family might relocate — you can visit this link.

    Learn More: What is a School Bond Issue?

    Features of the Missouri State Auditor’s Bond List

    · Search for bonds by the year they were issued
    · See a comprehensive list of school bond issues by district
    · Access each bond’s Bond Registration Report, which includes:

    o Name of district
    o County
    o Amount of bond
    o Date of issue
    o Interest rates
    o Purpose of bond
    o ...and more

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdTools.

    Why You’d Want to Use the Auditor’s Bond List
    The Missouri State Auditor’s website shows you what bonds have been issued in your district, and the site can be helpful for understanding how bonds might affect your local taxes.

    One of the most important features of the State Auditor’s website is the Bond Registration Report. Every registered bond has a Bond Registration Report that explains the original stated purpose of the bond. Because bonds can only be used for the purpose(s) stated on the ballot, your district may not use bond money for any purposes other than those in the Bond Registration Report.

    Click on the name of your local school district on the Bond Registration List to access your school district’s bond registration report*. If you have any doubts about how your district has used bond money, check its Bond Registration Report to read the bond’s original stated purpose.

    *Note that some school districts have multiple active bonds. To find for all of the past and present bond issues in your local district, enter your school district into the search bar and choose “Between 1999 and 2015”.

    This post is part of an ongoing series called Tools to Use. Each post highlights an educational, legislative, or funding tool that helps Missouri public school parents navigate policy and funding issues in the state. Click here to learn more about Missouri Parent.

    For regular updates that provide a greater understanding of the public education system, bookmark Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our Tools to Use posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdTools.


  • What Is a School Bond Issue?

     

     

    Have you ever seen a school bond issue on your local ballot, but not been sure exactly what a bond issue really is? This post will explain school bond issues and the tax levies used to repay them. We’ll also introduce a topic that we’ll go into great detail on later this week: operating levies.

    School Bond Issues: The General Obligation Bond
    In most cases, school bond issues are placed on the ballot when a district needs to make capital (i.e. construction) improvements that aren’t funded elsewhere in the school’s budget.

    In most cases, school bonds are General Obligation, or GO, Bonds. GO bonds are municipal bonds used to fund projects, like schools, that don’t generate enough revenue to pay for themselves.

    According to Investopedia.com, the GO bond is, “a municipal bond backed by the credit and ‘taxing power’ of the issuing jurisdiction rather than the revenue from a given project.” (Source)

    Schools don’t need to use assets as collateral for capital projects in the same way that traditional construction projects would. The full faith and credit of voters backs project costs. And unlike a for-profit construction project — for example, a new shopping center — schools don’t need to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of capital projects. That’s where tax levies come into play.

    Full Faith and Credit of the Voters
    Tax levies are often pledged in order to meet the debt service requirements of school bonds. Rather than requiring the school district to generate a substantial enough profit to cover its construction investments, local voters’ personal property taxes go up. This tax increase allows the community to pay back bondholders for the cost of the local school’s capital project. (Source, Source, Source)

    The Missouri Auditor’s Office explains:

    “When authorized by state law, Missouri’s local governments, such as school districts and municipalities, may borrow money to finance capital and other projects by issuing general obligation (GO) bonds, which are guaranteed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the issuer since the entity can levy a general tax to make GO bond repayments.” (Source)

    It’s important to note that a debt services tax levy for GO bond repayment isn’t the same thing as an operating tax levy. Operating tax levies fund a school district’s operating expenses like utilities and salaries. Springfield Public Schools sums up the difference between a bond and an operating levy on its website:

    “A school district requests a bond issue when it needs to make capital improvements such as building or renovating schools. A tax levy funds operating expenses like salaries, utilities and textbooks. State law is very specific that money from a bond issue may only be used for capital improvements and not to fund a district’s operating budget.” (Source)

    Learn more: What is an Operating Levy?

    Bonds Must Fulfill Their Stated Purpose
    There’s one final aspect of GO bonds that’s important to understand: Bonds are for specific uses, only. The money raised through the bond can be used for the purpose stated on the ballot, and for nothing else. If you see a school bond issue on your local ballot, you can rest assured that that bond issue will cover exactly what the ballot says, and nothing else.

    You can see a full list of bonds registered with the Missouri State Auditor’s Office here.

    If this post was informative, and if you’d like to continue to learn more about policies and funding issues facing Missouri’s K-12 public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates about Missouri public schools.



  • What is an Operating Levy?

     

    When you go to the polls, you might see both bond issues and operating levies on your local ballot. Do you know how an operating levy is different from a bond issue? Keep reading, because we’re about to explain.

    An operating levy is a relatively flexible source of funding for Missouri schools. Unlike bond issues, which can only be used for capital projects, operating levies can be used to support the school in a variety of ways, including salaries, bill paying, and technology upgrades. And while bond issues can be used exclusively for the purposes stated on the ballot, operating levies can be used to cover expenses that aren’t articulated on the ballot.

    Learn More: What is a Bond Issue?

    Springfield Public Schools explains the difference between a bond and an operating levy well: “A school district requests a bond issue when it needs to make capital improvements such as building or renovating schools. A tax levy funds operating expenses like salaries, utilities and textbooks. State law is very specific that money from a bond issue may only be used for capital improvements and not to fund a district’s operating budget.” (Source)

    Operating levies are covered under The Missouri School Operating Tax Levy Agreement, or Amendment 2. Passed in 1998, the constitutional amendment says that school boards can set a levy of up to $2.75 without a vote. A simple majority vote is required to pass levies that are between $2.78 and $6.00, and for a levy of more than $6.00, a two-thirds majority vote is required. (Source)

    Historically, levies have been used to hire teachers, increase existing teacher salaries, make capital updates, and help with general operating expenses for Missouri’s schools.

    This 2013 levy in Springfield, Missouri was designed to hire more teachers for the district, so that the number of educators there kept pace with the district’s growing enrollment.

    In 2014, in Warrensburg, an operating tax levy was proposed to help “offset the decline in state funding over the last five years, increase staff salaries, add two school resource officers and upgrade technology.” (Source)

    And this year, as you prepare to go your local polls, you might see a proposed operating levy increase as well.

    Public schools in Independence, Missouri hope to see a 24-cent increase this year. The district could raise $2 million annually through its levy increase, enabling it to hire teachers, offer competitive teacher salaries, and invest in professional development, technology, and building maintenance costs. (Source)

    And Dallas County, in Southwest Missouri, is also looking for an operating levy increase. The district would use the new funds for a combination of capital projects, teacher hiring and retention, and “additional needs of the district.” These “additional needs” are the type of needs that operating levies, but not bond issues, can help fund.

    Missouri Parent aims to help you better understand funding and legislation that affects your child’s K-12 public education in the State of Missouri. If you found this post helpful, you might like this post explaining school bond issues. Bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to continue to learn more about Missouri public schools.


  • Our Federal Title I Program Supports Students and Schools

     

    Title I is the country’s “flagship aid program for disadvantaged students”. It provides funding to schools to help close the education gaps associated with poverty. Title I is literally the first title (or section) in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was passed into law in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty”.

    The Institute of Education Sciences sums up Title I as a program that “provides financial assistance through state educational agencies (SEAs) to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.” (Source)

    What are SEAs?
    Each state has a State Education Agency (SEA) that coordinates educational efforts at the state level. Missouri’s SEA is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

    What are LEAs?
    Your child’s Local Education Agency (LEA) is the local organization that coordinates education efforts or provides government services to local schools. In most cases, the LEA is simply your child’s school district.

    How Can Title I Funds Be Used?
    Title I funds can be used for school wide programs or for targeted assistance. School wide programs are for schools that have 40% or more low-income students. School wide programs are implemented across the entire school, making core instructional programs stronger.

    Schools that don’t qualify for (or chose not to use) school wide Title I program funds can use the Title I targeted assistance program. Targeted assistance means that the school can identify and support those students who are at highest risk of failing.

    Title I funds could be used for a number of purposes, including extra instruction in core academic subjects, transportation of homeless students to their school of origin, hiring extra teachers, or investing in supplemental materials or technologies that help disadvantaged students meet state academic standards. Funding can also be used to support preschool, after-school, or summer programs that “reinforce the regular school curriculum.” (Source, Source)

    Who Benefits from Title I Funding?
    · Schools in need
    (to be eligible, at least 40% of a school’s students must be from low-income families)
    · Individual students who are at risk of failing. Examples could include children from migrant families, neglected youth and those at risk of abuse, or other at-risk youth

    How Many American Students Benefit from Title I?
    · In the 2006-7 school year: more than 17 million K-12 students benefited from Title I funds. (Source)
    · In the 2009-10 school year, more than 56,000 public schools or more than 21 million children nationwide benefited from Title I funds.

    Visit Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates about K-12 public school education, funding, and policy in the State of Missouri.


  • Quality Counts School Finance Report Gives Missouri a C- Grade

      

    Quality Counts — the nation’s most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education — published its 19th annual Education Week’s Quality Counts report.

    The report, called Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown was made up of three indexes:

    · The Chance for Success Index;
    · K-12 Achievement Index; and
    · School Finance

    School finance is an ongoing battle in Missouri, where the state’s Foundation Formula goes under-funded year after year. That’s why the Quality Counts report caught our attention: We were curious to see how Missouri’s school finance stacks up against the rest of the nation. The School Finance index “examined educational expenditure patterns and the distribution of those funds” (source).

    The findings? The U.S. earned a C grade. The highest scoring state in the nation was Wyoming, which earned a B+. The lowest was Idaho, which earned a failing grade. Missouri fell in the middle of the pack: we earned a C-.

    You can purchase the full report here, but if you’d like the shorter version, keep reading:

    The report looks at how much money each state actually spent on public education, but it also looked at funding-related poverty-based achievement gaps. It’s important to understand that the report didn’t just look at the state’s overall education spending though; it looked at the districts within each state.

    The study aims to measure educational progress — in this case educational funding progress — over time and across all states. To do that, the finance report included eight key factors:

    1. The relationships between school district funding and local property wealth;

    Missouri’s Score: Missouri scored 0.185, which means that wealthy districts in the state receive more funding per weighted pupil that Missouri’s poorer districts do.

    Read more: Satire (and the Sad Truth) About Education Funding with The Onion

    2. Actual spending as a percent of the amount of money needed to bring all students to a median level of funding;

    Missouri’s Score: 91.1%. The best scores in the nation were in the 95th percentile and the lowest was in the 81st. The national average was 90.8%. Our interpretation is that Missouri could do more to close the gap for students in districts where funding falls below the state median.

    3. The amount of disparity in spending across school districts within a state;

    Missouri’s Score: 0.151. In this case, 0.0 would be a perfect score because it would indicate that there was no disparity in spending from one district to the next. We fell near the middle of all states, but we were below the national average of 0.167

    4. The difference in per-pupil spending levels between the highest (95th) and lowest (5th) percentiles;

    Missouri’s Score: $3,558. Missouri’s spending difference was lower than the national average ($4,559), but the discrepancy in spending is substantial when you consider that our State Adequacy Target (SAT) for PPE in the same year was just $6,717.17.

    Learn more: Missouri’s State Adequacy Target & the Foundation Formula

    5. Each state’s per-pupil expenditure (PPE), adjusted for regional cost differences;

    Missouri’s Score: $10,798. The national average (adjusted for cost of living, etc.) was $11,735, so Missouri didn’t fall too far behind. Wyoming’s PPE was the highest in the nation at $17,758.

    6. The number of students in the state who attend school in a district that has the same PPE as the national average or a higher PPE than the national average;

    Missouri’s Score: Just 13.7% of Missouri’s students attend school in districts where PPE meets or exceeds the national average. Nationally, 43.4% of students attend school in a district that meets or exceeds national average per-pupil funding.

    7. PPE compared to how far below the national average each district funds its students; and

    Missouri’s Score: 85.7. While this measurement (called the “Spending Index”) uses a complicated mathematic formula (see the report), the important takeaways are that 100 is a perfect score, and that the national average was 89.4. Eight states scored a perfect 100, meaning that every single district in their state fund their pupils at or above the national average.

    8. The state’s total percent of taxable resources invested in education.

    Missouri’s Score: 3.3% of Missouri’s total taxable resources are invested in education, as compared to a 3.4% national average. The highest percentages in the country were in Vermont and West Virginia. Both states spent 5.1% of their taxable resources on education. North Dakota invested just 2.3% of taxable resources to public education.

    Learn more: Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?

    While the School Finance report shouldn’t be viewed as a standalone piece from the other two indices in Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown, its findings are still intriguing.

    · If we hope to reach a Top 10 national public schools ranking by the year 2020, how important is it to close our spending gaps between wealthier and poorer schools?
    · What can our education leaders and lawmakers do to help ensure that all students in Missouri get at least median-level funding for public education?
    · Is a $3,558 per-student discrepancy acceptable between our best- and worst-funded schools after removing the top and bottom 5%?

    Education funding and policy are complex issues nationally and right here in Missouri. Missouri Parent won’t always have the answers to these polarizing questions, but we’ll continue to report on funding and legislative issues that affect your child’s K-12 public education in the state.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog throughout the legislative session to learn more about education funding policies being debated right now in Missouri, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.

    ***

    Download the “National Highlights Report” of Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown here.

    Read Education Week’s press release on Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown here.

    See the School Finance report here.




  • An Unexpected Increase in Income for Missouri

     

    Missouri ended 2014 with more state income than lawmakers anticipated. According to St. Louis Public Radio, “State income – primarily taxes — rose 10.7 percent in December, compared to the same period a year ago” (Source).

    As a result, the state has just a bit more money to work with in the first half of the fiscal year than lawmakers expected. Overall revenue is up 5.1 percent, which equates to an additional $190 million in general revenue funds compared to the same window of time in 2013.

    The majority of the state’s increased revenues came through individual income taxes, sales and use tax collections, corporate income taxes, and corporate franchise tax collections.

    We aren’t sure yet what, exactly, this means for public schools. Hopefully the increase will mean that Governor Nixon isn’t forced to make budget withholds during the rest of this fiscal year to keep the state’s budged balanced, but it’s too early to be sure.

    Our best hope? That some the state’s unexpected income increase can prevent budget cuts for the more than half-a-million Missouri students whose funding could be reduced if the Foundation Formula doesn’t reach full funding in 2015.

    Learn more: Missouri Law Will Reduce Funding for More than 630,000 Public School Students.

    The First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly just began in Jefferson City. We’ll continue to share information about activity in the legislature that affects public schools. Bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about education funding and policy in the state of Missouri.


  • Missouri Legislature Appoints New Leaders for Education

     

    With the reorganization of the 98th Missouri General Assembly, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tem have appointed committee chairs, made committee assignments, and even restructured several legislative committees. The committee chairs with a direct leadership role in public education and funding are as follows:

    · Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Joplin), House Budget Chair
    · Representative Kurt Bahr (R-O’Fallon), Regular Standing Committee on Appropriations- Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), Regular Standing Committee on Children and Families
    · Representative Lyle Rowland (R-Cedarcreek), Regular Standing Committee on Emerging Issues in Education
    · Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), Select Standing Committee on Education
    · Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) Regular Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Appropriations
    · Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Education

    We congratulate all of these leaders on their appointments and look forward to their efforts for public education in Missouri.


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

    I

    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.

  • The Missouri Legislature Begins Anew

     

     

    January 2014 marked the beginning of another session of the Missouri Legislature. This is the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly.

    As the Missouri Parent project also exists to inform our audience of public policy issues which impact public education in our state, you will begin to see more content published here and shared across our social media about the activities of our elected officials.

    We would like to share a couple general pieces of information you may find helpful as the session works its way towards completion in May.

    • You can find contact information, listen to live floor debate, and follow the progress of legislation through the Missouri General Assembly website. Additionally, The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives have their own websites with these functions.

    • There are several committees in the legislature which have importance to our public schools. These include the House Appropriations - Elementary and Secondary Education, the House Select Committee on the Budget, the House Elementary and Secondary Education, Emerging Issues in Education, the Select Committee on Education, the Senate Education, and the Senate Appropriations committees.

    • The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House both provide web functions for finding legislation by topic.

    • You can follow live progress or ongoing discussions and posts about the Missouri Legislatures activities on social media by following the hashtag #MoLeg. Here are links to the search on Twitter and Facebook. You will also see #MoLeg on Instagram, Google+, and occasionally in our #MOParent posts.

    • Finally, from the Missouri House site, we share a page highlighting legislative processes in Missouri and a glossary of legislative terms which you will find very handy!

    If there are any other questions you have about our policy discussions, the legislature or issues you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment below or contact us at any time.


  • FORBES Quantifies the Unquantifiable: Return on Investment in Education

     

     

    FORBES published a story called, “Here’s a Plan to Turn Around Education – and Generate $225 Trillion” that tasked a small group of education policy experts with a mighty order. FORBES asked them to find out what it would take, what it would cost, and what the return on investment would be for America to become one of the highest performers in the world in education.

    The full story, printed in the December 15, 2014, issue of FORBES, is six pages long, but don’t worry: we’ll give you the overview right here in less than 500 words.

    We would like to hear your thoughts, criticisms, and similar ideas to this effort in the comments below or through our Contact page.

    The Question
    FORBES asked what it would take to get America’s student to a top five global ranking in academics. They looked at math scores, graduation rates, and college acceptance and completion rates.

    The Goals
    The study had three big goals:
    1. Identify the key policy changes America would need to make;
    2. Estimate how much those changes would cost;
    3. Estimate the national return on investment if the policy changes were successfully implemented.

    The Answers: 1 – Policy Changes
    Researchers identified five policies that the United States would need to address in order to reach a global top 5 ranking in education. Here are those areas and a basic description of each:

    1. Teacher Efficacy
    a. Attracting and retaining top college graduates.
    b. Measure teacher effectiveness.
    2. Universal pre-K
    a. “Guaranteed pre-kindergarten for every American.”
    3. Common Core Standards
    a. Using current Common Core efforts as preliminary steps, create national standards that ensure students graduate college-ready and globally competitive.
    4. Blended Learning
    a. Provide national broadband coverage and put a computer in the hands of every student.
    b. Deliver lessons that are personalized, matching each child’s needs and pace.
    5. School Leadership
    a. Empower principals and hold them accountable for educational results.

    The Answers: 2 – Costs
    To make necessary changes to those five policy areas would cost $6.2 trillion over 20 years. Or, as FORBES says, “$310 billion a year in today’s dollars.”

    The Answers: 3 – National Return on Investment
    The return on investment of these policy changes is good. Really good. According to FORBES, “If you were a for-profit investor, you could discount these findings as much as you want, and you’d still be falling over yourself to invest.”

    How good is good? Somewhere in the ballpark of $225 trillion, spread over 80 years. For a $6.2 trillion investment, that’s a payoff we should all be willing to stand behind.

    You can read the full FORBES story Here's a Plan to Turn Around U.S. Education -- and Generate $225 Trillion.

    For more on education policy, education funding, and Missouri’s public schools, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Missouri Legislature Begins Filing Education Bills

    The filing period for the 98th Missouri General Assembly opened on December 1, 2014 and concluded on January 6, 2015. Several veteran and new legislators have filed education-related bills which could impact all Missourians. While filing a bill does not guarantee any of these ideas will become law in Missouri, we will continue to monitor and report on these bills as they move through the legislative process. 

    The embedded tweets below contain links to the actual bill information on the web pages of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate. For more information on the bills, feel free to contact Missouri Parent or the sponsor of the legislation.

    *Updated with more pre-filed education-related bills, 1.6.2015

  • The Impact of Refundable and Non-Refundable Tax Credits

    Tax Credits are a hot topic in Missouri, in part because they make up so much of the state’s budget. In Fiscal Year 2012, for instance, Missouri projected total expenditures of $8.64 billion. According to the Tax Credit Review Commission, more than $629 of those expenditures were projected to be consumed by tax credits. (Source)

    When an individual or business receives a tax credit, that individual or business receives a dollar-for-dollar reduction in its taxes due at the end of the year. Tax credits are the equivalent of subtracting an exact number of dollars from taxes due to the state. In other words, a $100 tax credit applied to a $1000 tax bill would result in $900 due to the state.

    Tax credits and tax deductions are not the same things, although many people confuse the two. Tax deductions aren’t a reduction in the taxes an individual or company owes. Instead, they’re a reduction in the total taxable income an individual or business has to report.

    Learn More: What Exactly Is a Tax Credit?

    Refundable vs. Non-Refundable Tax Credits
    There are two big categories of tax credits: refundable tax credits and non-refundable tax credits. When an individual or business receives a non-refundable tax credit, the credit cannot reduce the amount of taxes due to less than $0.

    For example, if you own $500 in taxes and receive a $600 non-refundable tax credit, your balance due will be $0.

    Refundable tax credits can be profitable for the recipient. When the amount of a refundable tax credit exceeds the amount of money an individual or business owes on state taxes, the individual or business gets a tax refund.

    For example, if you owe $500 in taxes and receive a $600 refundable tax credit, you will receive a $100 refund from the state. Or, as TurboTax puts it, “For refundable tax credits, if you would otherwise owe less than $1,800, you get the difference back as a refund!” (Source)

    Missouri Works goes into more detail by explaining that unused credits can even be bought and sold:

    “Tax credits can only be applied to tax liability for the year in which they were earned. Any annual unused balance is fully refundable. The credits may also be transferred, sold or assigned.” (Source)

    Should Missouri Offer Refundable Tax Credits?
    Providing incentive to companies to do business in Missouri is a good thing, but should the state—which still hasn’t met its responsibility to the Foundation Formula for public education—provide tax credits that can be transferred, sold, or assigned? And is it a good idea for Missouri to offer incentives that exceed taxable incomes to the point that individuals and businesses can profit directly from those tax credits?

    Missouri Parent will continue to raise more questions about and cover more topics surrounding Missouri’s tax credits, and the way they impact public schools. To stay informed on legislative and funding issues like tax credits, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


  • Early Childhood Education Investment: An Investment in Our Kids & Our Economy

       

    What would you say if we told you that a single type of state investment could do these three big things?

    1. Increase high school graduation rates.
    2. Improve an adult’s job prospects.
    3. Help a great percentage of Missourians become successful contributors to our economy.

    We're here to tell you that early childhood education investments help with all of those things and more.

    Ready Nation is one of the many independent organizations in the U.S. that takes a powerful stand in regards to the return on investment that early childhood education brings to communities, business, and students. It says that quality early learning programs “have been shown to immediately generate about $2 for every $1 invested, through the sale of local goods and services, providing an immediate benefit to communities and making early learning an important economic sector.” (Source)

    If we offered you a retirement plan that had a 2-to-1 return, you would jump on the opportunity. But when policymakers have the opportunity to invest in early childhood education in Missouri, there’s much contention.

    Recently, the Springfield Daily Leader published a news story about a head start program whose state funding suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared. Communities in Springfield, Branson, Bolivar, Marshfield, and Ozark could all be affected.

    Across the state in Kirksville, Missouri, another early childhood program saw November funding cuts. The Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency lost 74 slots for Early Head Start Program students, leaving it funding for just 14 slots. 74 families will be affected. 54 will be slots previously filled by students, and 20 will be prenatal slots—all in a town of less than 18,000 people. (Source)

    Study after study shows that early childhood education is a good investment—not just in kids, but a good investment in economies. Here are just a few examples:

    · Missouri’s own Now for Later campaign says that, “Longitudinal studies indicate a societal return on investment in early childhood programs of approximately $10 per $1 invested.” (Source)

    · A cost-benefit analysis by the Journal of Public Economics “suggests that a dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more.” (Source)

    · Ready Nation says that at-risk students (like those who are often served by the Head Start program like the one mentioned in Kirksville) who participate in quality early childhood learning programs their median earnings” by as much as 36%.” (Source)

    · Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. James Heckman is a powerful advocate for investing in early childhood education. He believes “the most cost-effective route to strengthening the workforce is to invest in early education.” (Source)

    Missouri must stand up for and invest in early childhood education. Cutting the same programs that a wide body of research has shown has an impressive return on investment while simultaneously funding expensive and inefficient programs like Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) is one more example of bad #MissouriMath.

    A new legislative session will open in Missouri in January, and Missouri Parent believes that it is worth advocating for early childhood education. If you agree, please contact your local lawmakers to let them know that early childhood learning programs are a strong investment in Missouri’s future.

    To stay informed on the January session in the Legislature, and to remain up-to-date on policy and funding issues affecting Missouri public school, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Missouri’s Low Income Housing Tax Credits

     

    Missouri struggles to support public education. Year after year, lawmakers make choices about general revenue expenditures like those that support Missouri’s K-12 public schools. They also make decisions about tax credits, like Missouri’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Year after year, the Foundation Formula for public schools remains underfunded by almost exactly the same amount of money that goes to LIHTCs.

    Learn More: Understanding the Foundation Formula

    Compared to other states, Missouri is incredibly generous with LIHTCs. Only 14 states offer LIHTC programs and of them, only California and Georgia spend more money on those low income housing tax credits than Missouri does. (Source)

    On the surface, this may not seem like a problem, but the reality is that LIHTCs aren’t an investment in Missouri or Missouri’s future. Studies have shown little to no return on investment for tax credits. To make matters worse, for every dollar spent on LIHTCs, more than half is lost to accounting, taxes, and middlemen.

    According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, only 43 cents of every dollar spent on low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) is spent constructing new housing. “The rest of the money is lost in an accounting haze or flows to federal taxes, investors, and middlemen.” (Source)

    LIHTCs are the single biggest category of tax credits in the state. The Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission identified LIHTCs as the single most expensive tax credit to the state. (Source)

    Unlike LIHTCs, education is an investment with a high return. Education, especially early education has proven time and again to bring money back to those who invest in it.

    According to the Economic Policy Institute:

    “States can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Providing expanded access to high quality education will not only expand economic opportunity for residents, but also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.” (Source)

    The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) cites early childhood education as a good investment for governments. According to UNICEF,

    “Efforts to improve early child development are an investment, not a cost. Available cost-benefit ratios of early intervention indicate that for every dollar spent on improving early child development, returns can be on average 4 to 5 times the amount invested, and in some cases, much higher.” (Source)

    LIHTCs provide little to no return on investment, while education offers a 400-500 percent return. Our lawmakers support LIHTCs but refuse to fund Missouri’s schools fully. This situation sounds to us like another example of #MissouriMath.

    If you’d like to learn more about tax credits and Missouri public schools, come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog. We’ll continue to share information about legislation and funding issues that related to public education. Bookmark the blog or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates.

    Learn more:
    Tax Credits Don’t Attract Businesses to Missouri
    What Exactly is a Tax Credit?


  • Tax Credits Don’t Attract Businesses to Missouri

    Studies show that Missouri might earn more money by investing in education than it does by investing in tax credits designed to spur economic development.

    State governments that emphasize tax credits and other corporate tax perks to corporations in hopes of enticing them to do business inside state lines are missing the boat, according to this 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

    In a single paragraph, the report summarizes a complex and important investment issue that Missouri Parent will continue to explore in the weeks and months ahead: the indirect cost of state tax credits to Missouri’s public school students.

    Learn More: What Exactly is a Tax Credit?

    Many lawmakers believe that the tax credit is a powerful incentive to lure businesses into Missouri, but tax credits might not be as effective as they think. The EPI’s report on says that tax incentives aren’t financially relevant to big business budgets:

    “While cutting costs to business has become the principal focus of economic development policy in many states, more and more states are cutting programs across the spectrum to lower state taxes. In many cases, these ideas are promoted as a way to attract employers from other states—to steal jobs by offering incentives to business leaders. But the preponderance of evidence has shown that in the long run these strategies re inefficient and ineffective (Fisher 2013; Mazerov 2013; Lynch 2004). State and local taxes on business are simply too small a share of total business costs to play a significant role in location decisions...” (Source)

    If state tax breaks have been proven not to be a significant factor when industry leader select locations for their operations, why does Missouri continue to spend more than half a billion dollars each year on tax credits? This is one of the questions the Missouri Tax Credit Commission tried to answer.

    The Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission

    The Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission was charged in 2010 and again in 2012 to explore “the steadily increasing portion of the State’s budget which Tax Credits consume.”

    According to the Commission’s 2012 report, “for FY12, the State will have total expenditures of $8.64 billion. Of those total expenditures, tax credit will consume more than $629 million.”

    The Commission made recommendations in 2010 to scale back tax credits, but no significant changes were made. Again in 2012, the Commission recommended that Missouri tax credits — which cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year with little-to-no direct return on investment — be reigned in. Meanwhile, public school education — which studies have shown has a sevenfold return on investment — remains underfunded in Missouri. (Source)

    In 2012, Missouri spent $629 million on tax credits. In 2013, it came up $621 million short in Foundation Formula funding for Missouri K-12 public schools. For now, it seems as though little as changed since the Commission first set of recommendations in 2010: Businesses keep on winning, and public school students continue to lose.

    Missouri Parent will continue to write about tax credits, school funding, and education policy issues that impact your child’s K-12 and higher education in the state of Missouri. To stay up-to-date, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.





  • Stoddard County Schools & the Missouri Foundation Formula

     

    Each year, tens of thousands of Missouri students receive less money for their public school education than state law requires. These shortfalls accentuate differences between schools that operate in areas with high local property tax revenues and schools in areas with lower local tax efforts.

    This is precisely the gap that the Missouri Foundation Formula, which was passed into law in 2005, was designed to bridge. The formula establishes a concrete spending target — the amount of money that should be spent (at minimum) in order to adequately educate each K-12 student in the state, and it helps local districts make up the difference between local tax revenues and the per-pupil state adequacy target.

    Learn more about the Missouri Foundation Formula

    It’s sometimes hard to wrap our heads around the systemic underfunding of Missouri’s schools. Most Missourians can’t image what $500 million looks like, much less how a $500 million shortfall would affect an individual teacher’s classroom or the staffing of an individual principal’s school.

    That’s why Missouri Parent wants to highlight specific schools, districts, and counties that are underfunded by the state. Today, we’ll talk specifically about the seven school districts in Stoddard County, Missouri.

    Underfunding in Stoddard County, Missouri
    Stoddard County is almost as far south as you can get in the state before you cross the border into Northeastern Arkansas. Generally speaking, it is in between Cape Girardeau and the Bootheel. It’s a small county: less than 30,000 people live there. The median household income is $37,303 per year—almost exactly $10,000 below the state average. (source)

    Stoddard County’s school districts are small. Bell City R-II is the small district in the county with just 214 students K-12 and Dexter R-XI is the largest with 2,119 students. The remaining districts; Advance (405 students), Bernie R-XIII (522), Bloomfield R-XIV (700), Puxico R-VII (701), and Richland R-IV (573) have less 3,000 students altogether.

    When you add every K-12 student in Stoddard County, there are just over 5,200 kids. For comparison, St. Charles R-VI—a single St. Louis metro area school district—has just over 5,000 students. And that’s not even close to Missouri’s largest single district; 34 districts have more students in them than St. Charles does.

    Finding Information About Underfunding in Rural Schools
    Small town newspapers like the ones in Stoddard County don’t have the reach that their big city counterparts do, and metro-area media sources aren’t likely to interview rural Missouri educators whose towns fall outside of the paper’s core readership.

    Stoddard County only has one daily newspaper. It’s name is The Daily Statesman, and while it’s stories are available online, it’s not even in the top ten Missouri newspapers (source). The paper has less than 10 staff members listed on its website, but it does its best to cover education news in the county.

    According to The Daily Statesman, the Missouri Foundation Formula underfunds all seven of Stoddard County’s school districts. While there are only a few published interviews online discussing the effects of this underfunding on students and schools, what the existing interviews say is worth hearing.

    The superintendent of Bloomfield, Toni Hill, told The Daily Statesman that her district is funded at 93 percent of the Foundation Formula, and that the district can’t afford further cuts:

    "We are always very conservative when budgeting revenue," said Hill. "The district does not have enough reserve in our account balances to make up for any shortfall." (Source - March 2014)


    Underfunding of the Foundation Formula is threatening the ability of rural districts like Bloomfield, to keep its doors open. This is bad for communities and for kids; schools are a critical component of a town’s economic architecture, and in rural areas, kids without a local school might have to be bussed 30 miles or more to the closest accredited districts.

    The Richland Schools superintendent, Frank Killian, offered an even more pointed quote to the paper than Hill did. Killian told The Daily Statesman that,

    "Schools have made cuts in the past several years to get down to skeleton crews, but unlike our legislators, our educators will get the job done even when facing lack of funding, which is quite evident by the great scores Stoddard County Schools are producing," (Source - April 2014)

    Missouri’s educators are undoubtedly working hard to help their students be as successful as possible. What Killian said is reinforced by national polls, which indicate that the majority of Americans believe that even when the education system isn’t perfect, their local educators, administrators, and school boards are doing a good job.

    Rural schools like those in Stoddard County sometimes go unnoticed in statewide media coverage of educational funding and policy issues. One of our goals at Missouri Parent is to keep Missouri’s parents informed about funding and policy issues that affect public school students in the state.

    Students in Missouri’s rural communities should receive adequate access to public school education, just as their metropolitan peers do. Missouri Parent will keep you informed about funding of the Missouri Foundation Formula and other state-level concerns that affect your rural schools. Bookmark the blog or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.




  • #MissouriMath Doesn’t Add Up

         

    The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics says that “the underpinnings of everyday life, such as making purchases, choosing insurance or health plans, and planning fore retirement, all require mathematical competence. (source)

    Mathematics is taught in Missouri’s K-12 schools and in its colleges and universities. From addition to calculus; statistics to econometrics, Missouri’s students take a wide range of math classes from kindergarten through college. Mathematical competence is emphasized in school, but it seems like the Missouri Legislature uses a different kind of math.

    In Missouri schools, basic math looks something like this:

    2 + 2 = 4

    But in the Missouri Capitol, math looks more like this:

    Tax Cut + Education Funding Needs = Budget Withholds & Program Cuts TWEET THIS

    This is what we call #Missouri Math.

    #MissouriMath is a different kind of math. It involves word problems, real world issues, and impact on real lives. In Jefferson City, math looks like this:

    · Struggling Schools + Underfunded Foundation Formula = Introduction of New Tax Breaks. TWEET THIS
    · #MissouriMath = Tax Cuts + Budget Restrictions = Impacts on Individual Students TWEET THIS
    · #MissouriMath means that legislators can offer tax breaks without accounting for the income gaps they’ll create in the General Revenue.

    And in #MissouriMath, those tax breaks = possible cuts to critical programs like the Missouri A+ Schools Program that have helped improve Missouri’s high school graduation rates, track at-risk students, and guide graduates toward appropriate community college and vocational school programs after high school graduation.

    When it comes to public policy, #MissouriMath looks like this:

    · #MissouriMath = The Passage of SB 509 = Individual Tax Cuts + (-Loss of Funding for Schools)
    · #MissouriMath = Teachers working hours they might never be paid for TWEET THIS
    · #Missouri Math = a $115 million increase the Foundation Formula = a Foundation Formula that’s still underfunded by nearly $500 million.

    #MissouriMath is satirical at times, especially where property taxed-based education funding that leaves poor urban and rural schools far behind the funding levels of their wealthier suburban counterparts is concerned.

    And unfortunately, #MissouriMath like this next equation are anything but satire:

    #MissouriMath = (+1.5% Missouri Lottery Revenue) + (-7.4% Decrease in Lottery Contributions to Public Schools) + (6x increase in Lottery advertising spending on things like these T.V. commercials promoting the Lottery’s commitment to public education)

    #MissouriMath doesn’t have to look like this—in fact, in our eyes, it should look something like this:

    #TheRightMissouriMath = A Fully Funded Foundation Formula TWEET THIS
    #TheRightMissouriMath = Investment in the Missouri A+ Schools Program TWEET THIS
    #TheRightMissouriMath = Giving Our Youngest Learners a Great Start TWEET THIS
    #TheRightMissouriMath = Money to Education not Transportation = Students Get Great Education in Home Districts

    If you’re like the many Missouri parents who rely on Missouri’s public schools to prepare your child for college and career, rally together with Missouri Parent to let Missouri lawmakers know that #MissouriMath doesn’t add up.

    To learn more about the funding and legislative issues facing public schools and impacting K-12 students in Missouri, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

     

     

  • What Exactly is a Tax Credit?

    It would be so much easier to make smart voting decisions if we could just get a simple rundown of what each policy means, how much it would cost taxpayers, and how that money would help Missouri.

    A tax topic of much contention right now is Missouri tax credits. Tax credits aren’t just controversial; they’re highly complex. Tax credits can benefit individuals or businesses, and they’re offered both by the federal government and the state of Missouri.

    Each tax credit the state offers to individuals or businesses means less direct tax revenue for the state. Usually, tax credits are offered as a longer-term investment in things like attracting (and keeping) businesses in the state.

    In the months ahead, we’ll be talking a lot on the Missouri Parent Blog about tax credits. Today we’re here to lay the foundation for those conversations by answer the question, “what exactly is as tax credit?”

    Wikipedia calls a tax credit “a sum deducted from the total amount a taxpayer owes to the state,” and The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines a tax credit as “a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the tax. Can be deducted directly from taxes owed.”

    Tax credits are easily confused with tax deductions, but they aren’t the same thing. According to the IRS, a tax deduction is “an amount (often a personal or business expense) that reduces income subject to tax.” (source)

    While tax credits are taken dollar-for-dollar from the total taxes owed by an individual or business, tax deductions are a less direct way to reduce tax responsibility.

    What do you mean, “dollar-for-dollar”?

    A tax credit is an amount of money that’s subtracted from the total taxes due to the state. If a business owes $10,000 in taxes and receives a $1,000 tax credit, the equation looks like this:

    $10,000 due - $1,000 tax credit = $9,000 due

    Think of a tax credit as a coupon for a certain number of dollars off a total grocery bill (for example, $25 off your grocery bill). That credit/coupon is applied to your total bill upon checkout. No matter how much you spend, you still save $25. If you spend less than $25, however, you don’t get a refund – you simply walk away with a zero balance.

    This example is simplified and shouldn’t be taken literally. The point that it illustrates, though, is that tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar discount on taxes due.

    Tax Credits & Tax Deduction Both Equal Tax Savings

    Deductions and credits can both reduce the overall taxes owed by an individual or a business, but deductions reduce the taxes owed in a way that’s relative to both the taxpayer’s gross income and their tax bracket.

    The TurboTax Blog sums it up nicely:

    “A tax deduction is something that reduces how much taxable income you claim. A tax credit is something that directly reduces how much tax you owe.” (Source)

    Here are two detailed examples of how a $1,000 tax credit and a $1,000 tax deduction would impact taxes owed:

    Example 1 – Tax Credit: Let’s look back at the above example. Imagine that you received a $1,000 tax credit for your business. This tax credit will be applied dollar-for-dollar to the state taxes you owe on April 15th.

    If your total amount of taxes due to the state total $10,000, you’ll subtract $1,000 from that. Your actual taxes owed are reduced to $9,000.

    $1,000 Tax Credit = $1,000 in Tax Savings

    Example 2 – Tax Deduction: Now, imagine that your family is in the 25% tax bracket, earning $50,000 per year. You receive a tax deduction for $1,000. Your tax bracket (25%) is multiplied by the value of the deduction ($1,000) to find your actual tax savings of $250.

    $1,000 Tax Deduction x 25% Tax Bracket = $250 in Tax Savings

    (Source)

    Summary
    Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions in the total amount of taxes an individual or business owes to the state. The value of a tax credit can be taken at face value; a $1,000 tax credit means that the total taxes due are reduced by $1,000. Tax credits are offered to individuals and to businesses at both the state level and the federal level (i.e. on Missouri state and federal taxes).

    The Missouri Parent Blog will explore tax credits in more detail in the weeks and months to come. Please bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog or follows us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on policy and funding issues affecting Missouri public schools, and for insights on helping your child succeed in school.



  • Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part II: Graduating College and Career Ready

    This post is Part 2 of a series on the Missouri Top 10 by 20 initiative. Read the first post in the series here.

    In 2009, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) launched a statewide education improvement effort called Missouri Top 10 by 20. The initiative is designed to help Missouri’s students rank in the top 10 states in the nation for academic performance by the year 2020.

    The initiative was designed to hold Missouri’s schools, teachers, and administrators accountable for providing students with a nationally competitive K-12 education. That accountability is broken down into several goals, this first of which is “all Missouri students will graduate college and career ready.”

    What Does it Mean to Graduate College and Career Ready?
    Missouri wants all students to quality for entrance into post-secondary education or training. “Post-secondary education or training” means different things for different students:

    · Junior college
    · 4-year college or university
    · Trade school or technical college
    · Military service

    One way that the state can determine whether high school students are on track for college and career readiness is to track their test scores on a variety of different assessments.

    Some of those tests are state-mandated (like the tests issues as part of the Missouri Assessment Program). DESE wants to see the percentage of students scoring at or above proficient level on state assessments to increase each year to exceed 75% of students in all subgroups by 2020.

    Other tests, like the ACT, SAT, COMPASS, and ASVAB are optional assessments used by colleges, universities, and the military to judge a students’ academic or military aptitude. Missouri aims for the percentage of students scoring at or above the mean of the top 10 states on these college and career ready assessments to increase annually.

    Finally, the state looks to student achievement on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) as a way to measure college and career readiness. Specifically, Missouri wants to see the percentage of students scoring at or above proficient level on NAEP assessments increase by one percentage point at each test administration.

    Learn More: The NAEP and School Funding

    Missouri Top 10 by 20 is a statewide improvement effort that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states in the nation by 2020. Learn more about Missouri 10 by 20 on the DESE website.

    Learn More: How Missouri Prepares Students for College & Career Success:
    Missouri Updates Top 10 by 20 for Fiscal Year 2015
    Leadership Development Program Announced for Missouri Educators
    Missouri Administers ACT Free for 11th Graders
    Career & Technical Education in Missouri
    5 Ways Your Child’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    4 Cs of Education Teach 21st Century Skills Needed for College and Career Success



     

  • The Missouri Lottery: False Advertising?

    The Missouri Lottery, which exists in large part to fund public schools, is under public scrutiny.

     

    The Lottery saw a 1.5 percent increase in gross revenue last year, while its contributions to public education were down 7.4. This hasn’t stopped the Lottery from spending advertising dollars telling the public about its contributions to public education. (source)

    Over the last ten years (FY04-FY13), the Missouri Lottery has ranked as one of the best in the country for overall lottery payout percentages, and for payout percentages for its instant games and draw games.

    In fact, prize payouts increased by 5.4 percent over that ten-year span, and in 2014 Missouri’s payouts were 66 percent of its revenues (compared to a 60 percent national average). (source)

    Concerned with these trends, Governor Nixon required in July that the Office of Administration (OA) conduct a comprehensive review of “the Missouri Lottery’s ability to carry out its voter-approved mandate to provide a stable funding source for public schools”.

    In September, the OA, Division of Budget and Planning published its report. The “Review of Missouri Lottery Operations” provided a “comprehensive review”, exploring finance lottery trends using data from all 44 states that have lotteries, and going back ten years.

    The report covered prize payouts, retailers & contractors, advertising & promotions, and administrative costs.

    The Lottery’s advertising expenditures raised eyebrows not just because its spending is so high, but because it has doubled since 20008 and increased six-fold since 2014.

    According to the report,

    “The recent increase in the advertising budget was driven by input from MO Lottery that such an increase would result in higher funding for education. Based on actual transfers to education, it is unclear if this was actually the case.” (source)

    Advertising isn’t the only aspect of the Missouri Lottery that has come under scrutiny; it’s leadership has, as well. In September, Governor Nixon removed the four existing Lottery Commissioners, replacing them and adding a fifth. Four of the five new commissioners are prominent educators.

    Nixon and the new commissioners approved a continued $16 million advertising budget for the Lottery for FY 2016, but added a caveat: that they are to do a “thorough review of the efficacy of the advertising” before the Lottery exceeds $12 million in advertising spending. (source)

    As the new lottery commissioners settle into their roles, the OA report, the Governor’s opinions, and the new commissioners’ respective backgrounds in public education will influence Lottery spending and accountability. The commission plans to hold the Lottery responsible for its mandate to support schools, but only time—and dollars—will tell how the Lottery will influence education in the future.

    Missouri Parent will continue to share information with you on how the Missouri Lottery Commission and its public mandate to support public schools is affected by the recent OA report. You can read the full Lottery report here.

    Follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on funding issues and policies that affect Missouri public schools.



     

  • Satire (and the Sad Truth) About Education Funding with The Onion

     

    The Onion is arguably the funniest satire site on the web, taking stabs at all aspects of culture and current events, from politics to sports to technology. As its sardonic articles, videos, and infographics make the rounds on social media, one of its posts occasionally touches on a subject dear to the heart of Missouri Parent: public schools.

    On September 12th, The Onion published a story called “Tips For Fixing The Nation’s Education System”. The post offered a dozen or so suggestions for “fixing” education in America.

    Some of the suggestions were funny:

    “Discourage teacher turnover by downplaying the importance of having money and respect.”

    Others were absurd:

    “Tattoo grades on foreheads to shame low performers.”

    But one of The Onion’s satirical recommendations hit especially close to home:

    “Whatever you do, don’t change anything about a property-tax-based funding system in which rich schools get richer while poor schools get poorer. That’s working just fine.”

    Missouri Parent strongly advocates for full funding for the Missouri Foundation Formula precisely for the reason The Onion articulated: our state’s poorest students shouldn’t be punished with a lower-quality public education than their wealthier peers receive.

    Learn more about the Missouri Foundation Formula

    The Foundation Formula was passed into law in 2005 to create a level playing field for elementary and secondary education students in Missouri, no matter how rich or poor their local communities are.

    When a community is able to generate substantial revenue from local property taxes, its schools need less support from the state of Missouri. When communities aren’t able to generate as much local tax funding for schools, the Foundation Formula helps those schools to provide an “adequate” level of per-pupil funding.

    The goal is to make sure that students statewide—regardless of how wealthy their communities are—receive a fair shot at a good education. The problem is that the Foundation Formula has never been fully funded.

    “Whatever you do, don’t change anything about a property-tax based-funding system…”

    If the Missouri Foundation Formula was working ideally, property-tax-based funding for local schools would be fine. Unfortunately, though, the Foundation Formula has been extremely underfunded from its beginnings.

    The result: students who live in areas that have traditionally been less able to generate local property tax revenues (specifically our most urban and most rural students) continue to receive a less adequate education than students in districts with more local funding.

    Full funding for the Missouri Foundation Formula is one of Missouri Parent’s core advocacy objectives and, while this article may contain humor, is a topic we are very serious about. To learn more about the Foundation Formula, and about how its underfunding continues to discriminate against rural and urban K-12 students in Missouri, follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark the blog.


  • Four Prominent Educators Appointed to the Missouri Lottery Commission

          

     

    Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently made two important decisions about the Missouri Lottery that could affect funding for Missouri public schools.

    First, the governor required the Office of Administration (OA) to review the State Lottery Commission. Second, he replaced four Missouri Lottery commissioners and added a fifth. Of the five new commissioners, four have strong backgrounds in public education.

    In July, Gov. Nixon ordered the OA’s comprehensive report of the Lottery’s earnings and expenditures with a careful eye on its voter-approved mandate to support schools. The report showed that the last three years (FY 2012 – FY 2014) have been the highest-earning years in the Missouri Lottery’s history, but that profit for education was down 7.4 percent.

    Gov. Nixon is concerned. “The goal is not how many lottery tickets you can sell,” he told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in a phone interview. “The goal is how much money you can get to the classrooms of our state.”

    In September, the governor announced the removal of the four lottery commissioners mentioned already, including the Commission’s chairman (and Gov. Nixon’s former law partner) Kevin Roberts, saying that it was time for a “fresh look” at the State Lottery Commission.

    That “fresh look” will come from a retired public utilities administrator and four prominent educators. The four educators who have been appointed to the Missouri Lottery Commission are Dr. Terry R. Adams, Judene Blackburn, Dr. Phyllis A. Chase, and Paul Kincaid. The retired utilities administrator is John Twitty.

    Adams, of Lake St. Louis, is a retired school superintendent in several Missouri school districts since 1987: Rockwood, Wentzville, Rolla, Central (Park Hills, MO), and Arcadia Valley. He was named Missouri Superintendent of the Year in 2012. (source)

    Blackburn, of Waynesville, was superintendent of the Waynesville R-VI School District from 2006 through 2014 and was superintendent of the Halfway R-III School District before that. She has worked as an elementary and middle school principal, and was appointed as a commissioner for the State Council for Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children in 2011—a council on which she has served since 2008. (source)

    Chase, of Kansas City, has worked in public education since 1971. She is a former superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, was the chief of staff of Springfield Schools, and acted as superintendent of the Kansas City School District as well. She currently works as the director of the Charter School Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. (source)

    Kincaid, of Springfield, is retiring after 28 years as an administrator at Missouri State University, where he was most recently the chief of staff and assistant to the president for university relations. He has been active on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. (source)

    Twitter, a retired utilities administrator from Springfield, serves on the Board of Trustees of Drury University. (source)

    The governor stated on his website on September 18th that the appointments have the business and education experience necessary to ensure that the lottery provides maximum benefit to Missouri’s public schools:

    “The four Missourians I am appointing to the Commission today have extensive experience in business and education, and are uniquely qualified to provide strong leadership to ensure the state lottery provides the greatest possible benefit to our public schools.” (source) (Note: Ms. Blackburn was appointed after the Governor’s statement, which is why the statement refers to four—not five—appointees.)

    The five appointees represent several regions of the state, as well as the Republican, Democrat, and Independent parties (two are Democrat, two are Independent, and one is Republican). All five appointments are subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate.

    Missouri Parent will continue to share information on how the Missouri Lottery Commission and its public mandate to support public schools is affected by the recent OA report and the Commission’s new appointees.

    For more information on how state policies affect your child’s academic success, come back to the Missouri Parent blog often, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Education Funding Released After Veto Session’s Close

     

     

    Governor Nixon’s “Friday Favors” tax break bill vetoes were brought to lawmakers during the September 10th veto session in Jefferson City. The Governor’s tax break-specific vetoes were sustained, and he announced on Thursday that $143.6 million would be released back into the General Revenue.

    TWEET THIS ARTICLE

    Learn more about the Governor’s precautionary adjustment of the General Revenue in this post.

    Governor Nixon applauded the General Assembly for its decision to sustain his veto of those special interest tax break bills:

    “Presented with a clear choice between supporting local schools and siding with special interests, the General Assembly yesterday stood with us and made the right decision to invest in the best economic development tool there is: public education,” he said. (source)

    Taken individually, the Friday Favors arguably offered reasonable incentives to businesses. When viewed collectively, however, the bills had the potential to reduce the Missouri General Revenue by an estimated $425 million. Funding for Missouri’s K-12 and higher education institutions makes up 45% of the General Revenue, so the $425 reduction in revenues would have significantly impacted Missouri students.

    One of the most-discussed bills in the veto session was Senate Bill 584—a bill that gave tax exemptions that many lawmakers argued were overly vague—to data centers. SB 584 would have cost the state revenues, but it would also have cost local municipalities. Greene County, for instance, would have lost around $5.3 million as a result of provisions in SB 584.

    By sustaining vetoes of SB 584 and other special interest tax break bills, Missouri legislators have chosen to support to schools and students all over the state. The $143.6 million that has been released back into the General Revenue will go to local school districts and higher education institutions, benefiting nearly a million students, statewide.

    Governor Nixon called the release of those General Revenue funds for education a bi-partisan effort:

    “The resources I’m announcing today are possible because legislators of both parties came together and agree that it’s time to invest in our schools.” (source)

    Of the $143.6 million in released funding, $100.2 million supports the Missouri Foundation Formula, while more than $43.3 million is dedicated to performance funding for Missouri higher education.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog, follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook to learn more about how policy makers and policies impact your child’s education in the state.



     

  • Veto Session Begins Tomorrow: Contact Your Legislator Today!

    Tomorrow, September 10, 2014, legislators will meet in Jefferson City for a very important veto session. If you’re concerned about our state’s school funding, please contact your representative today, encouraging him or her not to override the Governor’s vetoes of the Friday Favor bills*.

    Share This Call to Action with Your Followers on Twitter!

    #FridayFavors Cost Millions TWEET THIS
    If the Governor’s vetoes are overridden, #FridayFavors will cost the state an estimated $425 million in tax revenues, with another hit of more than $300 million to local tax revenues statewide. If Missouri loses those tax revenues, our students lose, too.

    Lost Taxes Mean Students Lose, Too TWEET THIS
    If the Governor’s vetoes of the Friday Favors are overridden, the Missouri General Revenue will be shorted by approximately $425 million. 45% of the General Revenue goes directly to K-12 education (35%) and higher education (10%) in the state. That’s a cut of $119 million from Missouri’s students.

    The #FridayFavors Impact Individual Students TWEET THIS
    The Governor’s office estimates that the Friday Favors will have an impact of $105 per student across the state when the Missouri Foundation Formula is already underfunded by $500 per student. Additional funding cuts will force our schools to cut more positions, further limit their technology budgets, and make other cuts to student education.

    If education is important to you and your family, please contact your representative immediately to encourage him or her to support Governor Nixon’s #FridayFavors vetoes.

    *On the final Friday of the 2014 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly pushed through a collection of tax break bills that will benefit big businesses while pulling money away from Missouri public schools. These bills, which Governor Jay Nixon calls “Friday Favors”, will have a big impact on Missouri’s K-12 and higher education students.



     

  • Missouri Schools Should Be Prioritized Above Tax Cuts

     

     

    Governor Jay Nixon vetoed 33 bills during the 2014 legislative session. Ten of those bills, which his administration calls “#FridayFavors”, were vetoes of tax break bills that could reduce state and local tax revenues by more than $776 million annually, $425 million of that at the state level.



    These tax breaks are good for corporations and bad for schools. TWEET THIS

    Businesses would save $425 million in tax deals, while schools, which rely heavily upon Missouri General Revenue, would see a reduction of around $119 million in funding. Urban and rural schools, which traditionally see lower levels of local funding, would be among the hardest hit by the Friday Favors. TWEET THIS

    The Kansas City Star calls the tax breaks unwise, explaining their risk to schools:

    “It would be unwise to slash into revenues so deeply that it threatened funding for public schools, universities and services for six million residents.”

    The Star is not alone in its concern about tax breaks that would reduce state-level funding for education. Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering told KOMU News:

    “This is very significant from the standpoint that you have to reduce services and programs in order to make up for that loss. The biggest single beneficiary of state general revenue is K-12 education.”

    Legislators will reconvene on September 10th in veto session for a chance to override Gov. Nixon’s vetoes. If you’re concerned about funding for Missouri’s schools, reach out to your representative immediately. Let him or her know that your child’s education should be a higher priority than saving a fast food chain or other large corporation a few dollars in state taxes.

     

     

    photo credit: nicolasnova via photopin cc

  • Missouri Governor Vetoes Tax Breaks – How Will #MOLeg Respond?

      

     

    On the last day of the 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly passed several last-minute tax breaks to benefit several businesses and corporations. Governor Jay Nixon reacted strongly in favor of public education by vetoing those tax breaks, which would directly affect state-level funding for education in Missouri.

    As a precautionary measure (in case his vetoes are overridden), the Governor also adjusted the General Revenue to account for the $425 million decrease in the state’s tax revenues that the proposed tax breaks would create.

    The Governor, who has received tremendous criticism for this decision, was acting within his powers: The state constitution forbids it from operating at a deficit. A $425 million reduction in general revenues requires a $425 reduction in spending to keep the budget balanced—a reduction that directly affects K-12 and higher education students statewide.

    Each year, 45% of Missouri’s General Revenue is spent supporting K-12 and higher education institutions. If the General Revenue is reduced by $425 million, Missouri students will receive a proportionate reduction in support. In short, big business will save $425 million, and schools will receive around $119 million less per year than they already do in state-level educational support.

    Ironically, although it was a Republican-led majority that pushed for these tax breaks, Republicans have launched a high profile and well-publicized attack against Governor Nixon, calling students his “lowest priority”.

    House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka is one of the many Republicans speaking out:

    “This is a governor who tells the public he wants to invest in our young people, but then is all too willing to make school funding his first target and show that public education is his lowest priority…”

    In just a few days, Missouri’s lawmakers will reconvene in the capital to attempt to override Governor Nixon’s vetoes. If that happens, anti-tax advocates will win, and Missouri’s students will lose. If you believe that students should have priority over big business we encourage you to contact your local representative immediately to let him or her know that Governor Nixon’s vetoes should be supported—not overridden.

     

     

    TWEET THIS


  • Do Friday Favors Tax Cuts Really Matter to My 9-Year-Old?

     

     

    On the final Friday of the 2014 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed a series of bills offering tax breaks to several corporations and businesses. Governor Nixon vetoed them, calling them favors to big businesses, or “#FridayFavors”. 

    As the days draw nearer for the Missouri Legislature to reconvene for their veto session on September 10th, you will be hear this nickname repeatedly in news, conversation and here on Missouri Parent.

    Why did the governor veto those bills? In part, because Missouri’s General Revenue budget, which funds K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, can’t afford to lose any more income. The “Friday Favors” would mean a projected $776 million decrease in Missouri’s state and local government general revenue. TWEET THIS

    The reason this matters to a child—no matter how old—is that if he or she attends public school in Missouri, he or she is among the group of Missourians who will suffer the most if the Governor’s vetoes are overridden on September 10th: Missouri’s students.

    The tax breaks offered by the General Assembly will directly affect the state’s General Revenue budget—45% of which is dedicated exclusively to spending on our state’s schools.

    Even with the passage of a recent appropriations bill, which increased state education funding by $115 million, the Missouri Foundation Formula (Missouri’s Foundation Formula explained) is still underfunded by more than $500 million.

    Taking another possible $119 million away from Missouri’s schools via tax cuts is not the answer for the next generation of Missourians. If you have a child in school in Missouri, “Friday Favors” could mean that:

    · Student-to-teacher ratios will get worse as teachers and other staff are laid off to save money. TWEET THIS
    · Students with disabilities will have less access to high quality staff, buildings, and supplies. TWEET THIS
    · Young, at-risk students will receive decreased support from the Early Grade Literacy Program. TWEET THIS
    · Students who participate in career or technical education will have access to fewer resources. TWEET THIS
    · Early childhood education programs like Parents as Teachers and the Missouri Preschool Program will receive less funding. TWEET THIS
    · Less college tuition assistance will be available for students through the A+ Program. TWEET THIS
    · Funding for after school programs like tutoring will be reduced. TWEET THIS
    · Less support will be available for schools like those in Joplin that are damaged by extreme weather. TWEET THIS

    Lawmakers might be able to offset the impact these changes will have on their children by paying for privatized extracurricular activities, tutoring, and literacy programs, or by paying for private school altogether. The average Missouri parent, however, doesn’t have those options. That’s why these tax breaks matter so much.

    If your child will be affected by any of the impacts listed above, Missouri Parent strongly urges you to contact your local representative.


     

    Let him or her know that your child matters, and that you want Governor Nixon’s vetoes to be upheld when the General Assembly reconvenes on September 10th for veto session. We also ask you to share this information with your friends and fellow parents across Missouri.

    The legislature may have the raw numbers to override the Governor’s vetoes but the votes will be close. Your call to your local representative and senator may be the one which protects thousands of students in Missouri.


  • Four Passed Bills Which Impact Missouri Public Schools




    With the end of the regular session of the Missouri Legislature, it is a good time to look at several bills impacting public education were passed and one which might be back sooner than you think.

    HB 2002 is the appropriations bill which fund elementary and secondary schools. The Foundation Formula received an at least $115 million in increased funding. Due to a compromise trigger, if revenue meets earlier forecasts the fund could see more money for public schools.

    Even with the increased funding, the Foundation Formula is currently underfunded by more than $500 million from promised levels.

    See also: Where MO School Funding Comes From and Understanding the Foundation Formula

    SB 493 is the bill relating to transfers of students from unaccredited schools to accredited schools. Among many changes, the bill allows for students to be transferred to private, nonreligious schools. Governor Nixon is considering a veto of this bill and calling the Legislature back to a special session on the issue.

    HB 1689 allows for future state funding for public school districts to provide early childhood education to children in poverty.

    HB 1490 seeks to find a compromised between supporters and detractors of the Common Core standards by creating evaluation panels for any changes to education standards.

    Were there any public school issues you wanted to see addressed which were not by the legislature this session? Leave your thoughts and comments here on the blog on our Facebook page.

    Missouri Parent will continue to cover these issues and any updates on possible special session.

    Image via.

  • School Funding in America’s Top-Performing States


    American public schools were projected to spend $11,180 per student during the 2013-14 academic year (source). Missouri fell below the national average with a projected $9,721 per pupil expenditure (source). Today we’ll talk about whether that spending difference has an impact on achievement in Missouri’s public schools.

    Researchers have articulated loose correlations between school funding and student performance for years. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) gathers some of the data that researchers use in understanding those correlations.

    The NAEP is the nation’s longest-running comparative testing program, but it does more than test students; it also gathers comparative data on schools, districts, and states.

    The NAEP’s primary tests are administered in — among other content areas and grade levels — 4th and 8th grade reading and math. NAEP tests are administered in all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools. Of those 52 locations only 14 earned higher-than-national-average percentages in all four primary NAEP content areas: 4th grade math, 8th grade math, 4th grade reading and 8th grade reading.



    12 of those 14 states invests significantly more money per pupil in public education than Missouri does. Additionally, the average spending among the 14 highest achieving states was $11,871 per pupil. That’s almost $700 above the national average and more than $2100 — or approximately 22% —more than Missouri’s public school students receive.

    The larger correlation between school funding and student performance may be a loose one, but when the funding for the nation’s top performing states is compared against Missouri’s public education funding, the story becomes clearer: school funding makes a difference in student performance.

    Of the 14 states who performed above the national average in 4th and 8th grade math and reading none has a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunches than we do in Missouri. In other words, Missouri’s are facing financial challenges at home and at school that make it difficult for them to compete on the national stage.

    School funding has long been debated in Missouri, but nine years after the Missouri Foundation Formula for public schools was passed, the state still fell $620 million dollars short of full funding after the 2014 appropriations process. If we want Missouri’s students be competitive nationally, we must fund our schools at nationally competitive levels.

    To continue to learn about Missouri’s funding for public education and the legislative issues that affect that funding, subscribe to Missouri Parent emails: Just enter your name, email address, and zip code in the form at the top of this page.

    To learn what you can do to ensure that Missouri’s public school students receive the funding necessary for them to be competitive now and in the future, subscribe to the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

    More on Funding for Missouri Public Schools:

  • Neighboring States in the Education News

    As Missourians battle for full funding for the Foundation Formula and participate in heated discussions about the Common Core State Standards and school transfers, education is landing headlines in surrounding states, as well. From the governor’s race in Arkansas to Kentucky’s newly approved budget increases, here’s what leading education news headlines just across the border:

    Arkansas: Candidates for Governor Share Education Proposals
    As Arkansas prepares for elections, candidates for governor are sharing their proposals for statewide improvements in education. Specific topics range from early childhood education and workforce readiness to Common Core State Standards and increased local control of schools. (source)

    Illinois: Glitches in Teacher Licensing System Affect Teachers
    A multi-million dollar software system intended to aid in teacher licensing in Illinois was shut down after security breaches left teachers’ personal information public. For many teachers, information in the system was also missing and/or incorrect. Glitches left others unable to renew their teaching licenses. (source)

    Iowa: State Negotiates 6% Increase in Education Budget
    The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would increase public education funding by 6% in 2016. The bill, which awaits House approval, would benefit K-12 and state university students. (source)

    Kentucky: State Education Budget To Increase By $189 Million
    The Kentucky General Assembly approved increasing the state’s funding formula budget by $189 million over the next two years. Money will go towards teacher raises, technology, and textbooks. (source)

    Nebraska: New Standards Require Students to Use Social Media
    A new set of “digital citizenship” skills is being proposed in Nebraska as part of updated language arts standards. The new standards, which officials hope to have a final draft of by August of this year, also includes emphases on researching and writing for different purposes and on speaking and listening well. (source)

    Oklahoma: 25,000 Gather to Support School Funding
    Late March brought the largest advocacy effort for public schools that Oklahoma has seen in 24 years. An estimated 25,000 supporters gathered in Oklahoma City in a rally to fight against tax cuts and advocate for increased school support.

    Tennessee: Free Community College In Sight?
    Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proposed a plan that would make all costs for two-year community college programs free for Tennessee students. The governor’s proposal will help raise the rate of college graduates in the state of Tennessee. Currently 32% of Tennesseans hold some sort of college degree. Gov. Haslam’s goal is to raise that rate to 55% by 2025. (source)

  • Neighboring States: Oklahoma Fights for Funding



    25,000 supporters of public schools, educators, parents and students convened in Oklahoma City in late March in the largest advocacy effort the state has seen for public education in 24 years. Despite Oklahoma’s public school attendance increasing by 40,000 students since 2009, funding for the state’s public education has fallen by $200 million. Advocates came together at the state’s capitol to bring attention to the shortfall.

    Those in attendance made it clear that their request for additional funding was for students’ benefit, not their own. As Sarah Caldwell, a 30-year-old teacher in Midwest City-Del City told The Oklahoman, “Sure, I would love another couple of bucks in my pocket. But my students would really like technology in the classroom, adequate supplies, textbooks, all of that.”

    State Representative Lee Denney (R-Cushing) is the principal author of a bill that would provide a stable stream of funding to Oklahoma public schools. Rep. Denney sees funding as a critical tool in teacher retention and in preventing well as classroom over-crowding:

    “It’s time for our legislature to recognize that our schools cannot continue to serve the state’s 678,000 students in crowded classrooms. We cannot continue to implement the major education reforms and attract and retain (top) educators.” (source)

    Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Jeffrey Corbett also spoke on behalf of the state’s teachers.

    “We must invest in teachers and give them support,” he said. “We cannot do that with bargain-basement funding and unsustainable wages. It is time to turn our classrooms back over to our teachers.” (source)

    Oklahoma is currently ranked 49th in the nation in per-student education funding with funding levels that are nearly 23 percent below 2008 pre-recession levels. The Oklahoma legislature, like Missouri’s, is considering possible tax cuts that would further-limit public education funding.

    For comparison, Missouri currently has more than 917,000 students enrolled in our public schools and faces a more than $620 million shortfall to the Foundation Formula.

    You may also be interested in:

    Understanding the Foundation Formula

    Learn About the Foundation Formula

    Tax Cuts Don't Benefit Students

  • Spring Break is a Time for Action

    This is the week the Missouri Legislature takes its annual spring break. This usually signifies the halfway mark of the legislative session and allows our elected officials to reconnect with their constituents. Spring break is also a great time for you to discuss important public education issues with your state representatives and senators.

    So far this session there has been lengthy discussion on issues such as education funding, transfers of students from unaccredited school districts and tax cuts which would greatly impact your local schools.

    Missouri Parent has carefully watched and reported on these topics through our website and social media. You have probably read and shared our content with your fellow parents.

    When it comes to education funding, the legislature has chosen to ignore the budget recommendations of Governor Nixon and only commit to an additional $122 million towards the Foundation Formula. This legislative proposal, while appreciated, still leaves the state more than $478 million behind in funding our public schools. Our position: Work to fully fund the Foundation Formula. TWEET THIS

    Regarding student transfers, of the many bills which have been filed and debated, Missouri Parent only fully supports HB 2037 filed by Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R-Blue Springs). Thank Rep. Lauer HERE. This bill creates a proactive system of dealing with struggling school districts, protects the students who are left behind in our few failing districts, brings education professionals in as the problem solvers instead of hired gun bureaucrats and protects the investments made by Missouri’s taxpayers into all of our schools. Our position: Fix broken schools and protect students first. TWEET THIS

    Finally, when it comes to tax cuts, we stand with Governor Nixon and legislators who will only support tax cuts which take effect when the Foundation Formula is fully funded. The Governor vetoed last year’s risky tax cut idea and will probably do the same to any bill which does not protect funding for public schools. Our position: Fully fund public schools before any tax cuts become reality. TWEET THIS

    We ask you to take a moment this week to contact your local legislators and ask them to support public schools at the local and state level. When the legislators come back next week, discussions will run fast and furious to pass all the required legislation by their deadlines in May. Your input may be the voice they need to hear to truly fully fund, protect students, and build the future of our public schools in Missouri. TWEET THIS


  • Schools and Libraries to Benefit from Technology Funding & Donations

    Schools and libraries nationwide may soon see an influx of computers and software, and gain increased broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second.

    These improvements are the result of $750 million in pledged donations from companies and from recent changes to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) funding of its E-Rate grants program.

    Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are among the companies who have pledged to support technology in schools.

    Apple will provide $100 million in iPads, Macbooks, software and support. AT&T has promised $100 million in mobile broadband services, and Verizon has pledged $100 million in cash and in-kind services to expand digital learning services.

    Sprint will provide wireless services for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over four years, while Microsoft’s contributions will take the form of free and subsidized hardware and software.

    At the same time, the FCC has committed to use inefficiencies in it’s existing E-Rate grant program to provide an additional $2 billion in funding to schools over two years, bringing high-speed Internet connections to 20 million students in 15,000 schools.

    “Harnessing the power of digital technology is central to improving our education system and ourglobal competitiveness. In the Internet age, every student in America should have access to state-of-the-art educational tools, which are increasingly interactive, individualized and bandwidth-intensive.” – FCC Commissioner Thomas Wheeler (source)

    The FCC’s increased funding for the E-Rate program will come from unused past E-Rate funds and from shifting money away from outdated telephone services like dial-up Internet.

    These changes are good news for Missouri students, schools, and libraries, many of which are working with outdated computers and software and are located in rural areas with limited or no high-speed Internet.


  • Public Schools Face Increased Costs of Doing Business


    The Missouri General Assembly is in session, and once again, tax breaks for businesses are on the table. HB 1253, sponsored by Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) — the same representative who sponsored last year’s HB 253 — promise these breaks to businesses across the state.

    As you may remember, HB 253 was vetoed by Governor Nixon and the override attempt by the legislature failed.

    Missouri’s General Revenue provides approximately 84% of public education funding. If HB1253 passes, the state’s General Revenue is expected to fall between $71 million and $347 million per year.

    Businesses in Missouri face increased operating costs in 2014, including:
    · Increased insurance costs
    · Increased transportation costs
    · Increased litigation costs
    · Increased technology expenses

    The same can be said for Missouri’s K-12 public schools.

    Missouri’s public school systems face all of the same increased costs of doing business that businesses do: Insurance, transportation, litigation, and technology costs are all on the rise for Missouri’s schools. HB 1253 and similar pieces of legislation will reduce taxes for business, but it won’t help schools.

    In fact, it could hurt them by reducing the General Revenue.

    In FY2013, Missouri’s Foundation Formula for public schools was already underfunded by $621 million. Our students can’t afford HB 1253’s additional $71 million to $347 million hit on the General Revenue.

    Missouri Parent will continue to keep you informed throughout the legislative session. Be sure to subscribe to email updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the most immediate news on legislative and funding issues that affect Missouri public school students.

    What Can You Do? 

  • Tax Breaks Don’t Benefit Students

    Dozens of Missouri representatives from across party lines stood strong in 2013 against Missouri House Bill 253. The bill, which was touted as an economic development bill, centered on business tax cuts that were detrimental to state funding for public schools.

    Now that Missouri’s new legislative session is underway, another bill has emerged that is reminiscent of HB 253.

    Like HB 253, HB 1253 establishes tax breaks for Missouri businesses. The bill is sponsored by Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) — the same representative who sponsored HB 253, but it is narrower in scope than HB 253 was.

    In a testimony against HB 1253 by the School Administrator’s Coalition to the Ways & Means Committee, the Coalition pointed out to the committee that Missouri’s state-level education funding is some of the worst in the nation.

    The reduced state revenues created by HB 1253’s tax cuts will undercut already-low funding for Missouri’s schools.

    Since 2008, Missouri’s public schools have seen:
    · A 50% cut to early childhood education in the Parents As Teachers Program.
    · A $10 million cut to low-income early childhood education.
    · A 70% cut to transportation.
    · The elimination of Career Ladder.
    · Stagnate state funding coming to their schools.

    The Missouri Foundation Formula was underfunded by $621 million in FY2013, and nearly 84% of Missouri’s education funding comes from the General Revenue; a fund which is expected to be hit hard by the tax breaks supported by HB 1253.

    Our schools can’t afford to lose any more state funding, which is why, at this time, Missouri Parent does not support Missouri HB 1253.

    One of our goals at Missouri Parent is to keep you — the Missouri public school parent — informed on legislative and funding issues that affect your child’s public education. As the Second Regular Session of the 97th Missouri General Assembly moves forward, we’ll continue to post relevant updates and advocacy topics here on the Missouri Parent Blog.

    The Senate version of this bill is SB 509 sponsored by Senator Will Kraus of Jackson County.

    To learn more about funding and legislation that affects Missouri’s public schools, be sure to read these posts from the Missouri Parent Blog:

    Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?
    State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    What Missouri Educators Are Doing to Fight HB 253
    These Legislators Stood Strong for Education in Missouri

    What Can You Do?

    Contact Your Legislators

    Tweet: Tax cuts do not benefit public school students in Missouri: http://ctt.ec/f6Br_+ #MoLeg #FundMoEdClick the bird tweet a supportive message


  • Learn About the Missouri Foundation Formula

    This is Part II of a two-part post explaining the Missouri Foundation Formula. For Part I, please click here

    Previously, we discussed two of the four key components of the Missouri Foundation Formula: Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) and The State Adequacy Target (SAT). Today, we’ll explain the third and four components of the Formula: The Dollar Value Modifier (DVM) and Local Effort.

    The Dollar Value Modifier (DVM)
    The Dollar Value Modifier is an index of the relative purchasing power of a dollar across the state of Missouri. In other words, the DVM accounts for the various costs of living in different communities.

    The DVM comes into play in the Foundation Formula by providing more money to schools that operate in areas with higher costs of living.

    It’s important to understand that while schools in more expensive parts of the state receive additional funding to help cover their operational costs, schools in areas with lower costs of living do not experience a removal of funding. Funds in the Foundation Formula are never reduced as a result of lower cost of living in a school district.

    Local Effort
    While the WADA, SAT, and DVM help determine the total target amount of money that it should cost to adequately and equitably educate Missouri’s public school students, Local Effort describes the portion of that total cost that can be generated by local sources like property taxes.

    After calculating WADA, SAT, and DVM, the state subtracts Local Effort. The difference is the amount of money that the state must provide in order to ensure that the spending target is met for each student.

    The result of this final piece of the Foundation Formula is that in communities where more school funding can be generated locally, the state offers less fiscal support. The reverse is also true: in areas where less local funding is available for schools, the state’s Foundation Formula helps make up the difference to ensure that enough funding is provided so that students across the state — regardless of local wealth — receive an adequate public education.

    Summary
    This two-part post was intended to give you a broad understanding of what the Missouri Foundation Formula is and why it matters for Missouri’s public schools. To learn more about recent advocacy for full funding of the Formula, read our post, Exciting News for the Missouri School Funding Formula.

    To receive regular updates on Missouri’s education policies and education news, follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter. For updates delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for Missouri Parent emails at the top of this page.

     

  • Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    The Missouri Foundation Formula was passed in 2005 to help ensure that all of Missouri’s elementary and secondary education students have access to adequate educational resources.

    The formula is used to establish a concrete spending target — the amount of money that should be spent (at minimum) in order to educate the average K-12 student in Missouri per academic year.

    The four basic pieces of the Missouri Foundation Formula are:
    · Weighted Average Daily Attendance
    · The State Adequacy Target
    · The Dollar Value Modifier
    · Local Effort

    Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA)
    Weighted Average Daily Attendance accounts for the average daily attendance of students in each school district as compared to the total number of hours that each student could possibly be in school during that academic year in that district.

    A detailed weighting system is then used to account for the fact that some students simply need more help (and in turn, require more resources from their districts) than others do to achieve the same academic and/or behavioral results.

    The state has identified three categories of students whose attendance in schools is weighted: those on free or reduced lunches, those with individualized learning plans and those who are deemed limited in English language proficiency.

    The State Adequacy Target (SAT)
    Two terms are used in context of the State Adequacy Target and it’s important to understand the difference between them.

    Adequacy means providing each student with an education that is “adequate”. In other words, adequacy accounts for meeting baseline educational needs.

    Equity, on the other hand, means that each school district receives total funding that is fair relative to the total funding received by other districts.

    The SAT helps the state to educate students adequately by funding districts equitably. This is where the concrete educational spending target that we mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece comes into play. When the Missouri Foundation Formula is fully funded, the SAT will ensure that each student in the state of Missouri receives (at minimum) the equivalent of the target education investment for that academic year.

    For example, in Missouri, the target for 2013 and 2014 was $6,717.17 per student. When the Foundation Formula is fully funded, each student in the state will see a total investment in his or her education equivalent to at least $6,717.17 per academic year.

    The SAT accounts for the cost of meeting all of the criteria of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP), which is the state’s accountability system for schools and school districts. (Read more about the MSIP here.)

    To Be Continued…
    Come Back for Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula, Part II 

    Have Missouri K-12 public school updates delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page. You can also follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Lottery Makes $29.2 Million Contribution to Missouri Public Schools

    The Missouri Lottery made a very large contribution to Missouri public education on Friday, January 10th. A total of $29.2 million was transferred to our schools — the third largest monthly transfer in the Lottery’s 28-year history.

    What lead to the massive contribution? The Lottery saw great sales in December for the $648 million jackpot, and it set a weekly Scratchers ticket record that month as well.

    The largest-ever transfer of Lottery money to Missouri public schools was $30.4 million in April 2012. The second-largest was a $30.3 million transfer which took place in June 2013.

    Approximately 25% of the Lottery’s sales go toward Missouri public schools. That amounts to around 24.8 cents per dollar spent on lottery tickets. Overall, the Lottery’s contributions account for around 4% of Missouri’s public elementary, secondary, and higher education funding.

    Learn more about funding for Missouri’s schools:

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


  • 14 Missouri Schools to Benefit from $7.5 Million Federal Grant

    The U.S. Department of Education announced on December 23rd that Missouri was one of five states to receive continuation funds through the School Improvement Grant (SIG). This was the Missouri’s 5th consecutive year to receive SIG grants, receiving $7,531.890.

    Two other states — Arkansas and Kentucky — received SIG funds to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools. In total, the SIG program granted more than $43 million in 2013 to schools across seven states.

    SIG funds are awarded to each state’s State Education Agency (SEA) (in Missouri, that agency is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). Those state agencies then re-grant the funds to the school districts that show both need and commitment to improving student achievement.

    In Missouri those schools have been identified as:

    St. Louis Public School District:
    · Dunbar and Branch
    · Laclede Elementary
    · Roosevelt High School
    · Meramec Elementary
    · Earl Nance, St. Elementary
    · Yeatman-Liddell Middle School
    · Oak Hill Elementary
    · Sumner High School

    Riverview Gardens School District:
    · Lewis and Clark Elementary
    · Lemasters Elementary
    · Meadows Elementary
    · Moline Elementary

    Kansas City 33:
    · Martin Luther King Elementary

    Columbia Public Schools:
    · Frederick Douglass High School

    The U.S. Department of Education expects that SIG grant money will be used for the implementation of one of four rigorous school intervention models: turnaround, restart, school closure or transformation in each identified school.

    According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
    “Missouri schools that have received grants have typically used the money for additional staff such as instructional coaches or college and career readiness counselors; technology; implementation of reading and math programs; extended learning opportunities such as Saturday school, extended days, or classes during spring and winter break; improving graduation rates; and professional development for teachers and staff.”

    Up to $2 million has been award by the SIG program to more than 1,500 of the nation’s lowest-performing schools.




  • A Lesson From New Jersey Which Missouri Can Learn From

    In Part I of “A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools”, we explained how Abbott v. Burke resulted in a total — and highly effective — reform of New Jersey’s early elementary education programs in its poorest (and some of the poorest in the nation) schools.

    The Abbott model resulted in persistent test gains, lower retention rates, and a lesser need for special education services. Achievement gaps were made significantly smaller, and grade repetition was reduced by 12-19%.

    So how did New Jersey do it?

    Abbot v. Burke has been a long and expensive effort in school reform spanning 1985 (when the case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court) to present. During that time, New Jersey has:

    · Required low-income (dubbed “Abbott”) schools to undergo “whole school reform”.
    · Provided generous state support to Abbott schools to assist in reform.
    · Used state support to supply previously bare-boned classrooms with an influx of support, including books, computers, and teaching assistants.
    · Reduced class sizes. The new standard was 1 teacher to 15 students.
    · Strengthened early childhood curriculum.
    · Required that certified teachers teach all preschool classrooms.
    · Funded capital improvements that ensured that all students attended safe, educationally adequate, and not overcrowded schools.

    What Should Missouri Take Away?

    · New Jersey didn’t shuttle Abbott School students to different districts; it invested heavily in improving all aspects of those students’ educational experience in their own schools.
    · The state of New Jersey made huge financial investments in its early childhood education programs in Abbot Schools.
    · In New Jersey, the state contributed heavily to school improvement. (In Missouri, the Foundation Formula was still underfunded by $621 million in 2013, and less than 32% of public school funding came from the state.)

    Photo via Asbury Park Sun

  • These Legislators Stood Strong for Education in Missouri

    During the last session of the Missouri Legislature, legislators sponsored and sent a bill to Governor Nixon that would harm state funding for public education.

    Billed as an economic development initiative, the main plank of the legislation was to provide an income tax cut to Missourians of nearly $800 million. This tax cut would have largely come at the expense of funding our state’s public schools which have not received full funding for the past six years under the school foundation formula lawmakers wrote and passed.

    This year alone, those promised funds fell short to the tune of $600 million.

    Governor Nixon vetoed the legislation and the House of Representatives failed to override his veto during the Legislature’s veto session in September. Proponents of the ideas, both elected and from the general public, have vowed to bring the issue back again for the next legislative session beginning in January of 2014.

    The veto was sustained through the political courage of many state representatives of both parties. Several Republicans bravely rebuffed the efforts of House leadership and wealthy donors and stood with our public school students and their school districts.

    While the Missouri Parent program is a fiscally conservative effort and supports many of the economic development practices of our state, we cannot let certain billionaires and politicians put their aspirations in front of the education of Missouri’s K-12 students.

    Today we begin saluting the dozens of legislators who stood with our students. Specifically we would like to honor seventeen state representatives who did the right thing in September. We ask them to maintain their decision in the future and continue to work with Missouri Parent and public education supporters like you from across the Show-Me State as we seek to balance the funding needs of the future, the economic development needs of today, and to replace the appropriation shortages for education of that linger.

    The seventeen who especially #StoodStrong for education are as follows:

    Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prarie
    Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
    Rep. Ed Scheiffer, D-Troy
    Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville
    Rep. Craig Redmon, R-Monticello
    Rep. Sue Entlicher, R-Bolivar
    Rep. Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi
    Rep. Mike Thomson, R-Maryville
    Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek
    Rep. Lyndall Fraker, R-Marshfield
    Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa
    Rep. Jeffrey Messenger, R-Republic
    Rep. Kent Hampton, R-Malden
    Rep. Donna Pfautch, R-Harrisonville
    Rep. Elaine Gannon, R-DeSoto
    Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles
    Rep. Dennis Fowler, R-Advance

    We ask all involved with and supportive of the Missouri Parent program to take a moment to send a note or phone call of thanks to these representatives. Their official websites are linked above. You can also share this article or any of the member links with the #StoodStrong hashtag on Social Media to help broaden support.

    The days ahead, especially in the next legislative session, will not be easy for these members or public education funding. The importance of all Missourians getting involved in grassroots organizations like Missouri Parent may have never been greater than now.

    To get involved, use the links at the top of this page, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter as we frequently share ways for you to make an impact on education policy along with our informative articles about education and learning in our schools.

    Your support is greatly appreciated.




  • 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

    Stay up to date on educational policy: Subscribe today to the Missouri Parent Blog by entering your email address and zip code at the top of this page.

    You can also find Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.


  • State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools

    Yesterday, we explained how Missouri compares against national averages for federal, state, and local public education funding. Today, we’ll explore primary sources of state-level funding for our schools.

    In Fiscal Year 2014, Missouri will invest $3,385,298,854 in elementary and secondary education. That $3.4 billion will cover 31.76% of Missouri’s K-12 public education costs. The schools will look to the federal government for 10.13% of their overall state education funding, and to local sources for the remaining 59.01%.

    Of the $3.4 billion Missouri will spent on public education in FY14, 83.7% comes from Missouri’s General Revenue, and the rest comes from gaming, lottery, and other sources.

    State General Revenue (83.7%)
    Missouri’s General Revenue funds most of the state’s primary functions, including social services, health care, and public education.

    General Revenue is collected from individuals and business in Missouri through individual income taxes, sales and use taxes, corporate income taxes, corporate franchise taxes, refunds, and other collections.

    Gaming (11.4%)
    The Missouri Gaming Commission regulates charitable and commercial gambling in Missouri. Each year, the Commission ensures that a portion of Missouri’s gaming revenues is allocated to supporting public education. In recent years, gaming has directly contributed to Early Childhood Development, Education and Childcare in the state.

    Lottery (4.2%)
    The Missouri Lottery is another significant source of support for Missouri’s K-12 public schools. Each year, the Lottery appropriates funds for public education through Missouri House Bills 2, 3 and 6.

    To see exactly how the Lottery has divided its allocations, click here.

    Other (0.7%)
    Public schools are also funded through an assortment of smaller “other” funds. These funds include the Fair Share Fund revenues which are generated from tax receipts from four cents per cigarette pack; County Foreign Insurance Tax with comes from a tax on insurance premiums of companies not based in Missouri; and many other smaller revenue sources.

    Learn More About Missouri’s Schools
    If you want to know more about K-12 public education in Missouri, you can subscribe for MOParent email updates at the top of this page.

    To learn more about funding for Missouri’s schools, be sure to read yesterday’s post, “Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?”.


  • Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?

    Click the graphic above for a downloadable PDF.

    Missouri’s K-12 public schools receive funding from federal, state, and local sources. Today on the MOParent Blog, we’ll explain these three levels of funding.

    Federal Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    The United States government funds K-12 public education in a number of ways, including Title I, Reading First, Improving Teacher Quality Grants, English Language Acquisition assistance, and No Child Left Behind programs.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides funding to states in order to educate children with disabilities, and No Child Left Behind requires that the federal government support certain educational activities.

    Overall, Missouri receives a little more than 10% of its public education funding from federal sources.

    State Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    Approximately one-third of Missouri’s K-12 public education funding originates at the state level.

    According to the U.S. Department of Education (June 2005), the average state funds 45.6% of its own K-12 public education programs. Missouri is funding public schools at a rate nearly 14% below the national average.

    Missouri’s public education funding comes from a number of sources, including taxes, gaming, and the Missouri Lottery.

    Local Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    More than 59% of K-12 public education funding comes from local sources in Missouri. Nationally, the average is approximately 37% (U.S. Department of Education, June 2005). Missouri’s local districts are providing nearly 22% more funding than the national average.

    What Does This Mean for Our Students?
    The good news is that because Missouri’s elementary and secondary schools receive funding from federal, state and local sources, a single policy change will only affect part of the state’s educational funding.

    The bad news it that because Missouri already falls well below the national average for state funding to K-12 public education, policies that reduce state-level educational spending are detrimental.

    To learn about one recent threat to Missouri’s state education budgets, see this post on Missouri House Bill 253.

    Stay tuned to the blog as in the future we will discuss state-level funding sources.

    Did this post help you understand how your child’s school is funded? Stay up to date on Missouri’s educational funding and state educational policy by subscribing today to the MOParent Blog.

  • What Missouri Educators Are Doing to Fight HB 253

    Read the bill and veto message for yourself by clicking the image above.

    In June 2013, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed Missouri House Bill 253, calling it “an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment,” in part because of the damage it could to do state-funded services including public education.

    “House Bill 253 is a reckless fiscal experiment cooked up by a few special interests that could knock Missouri permanently off course and send us heading in the wrong direction.”

    Missouri teachers and administrators agree with Governor Nixon, arguing that the state’s public education system is already underfunded, and that HB 253 will only compound existing funding issues.

    According to the Missouri Association of School Administrators, “Missouri’s statutorily required formula for school funding is underfunded by over $600 million his year”. The additional financial effects of HB253 would be devastating to individual school district’s budgets.”

    School districts across the state are raising awareness and contacting their legislators.

    One example is in Springfield, Missouri, where the Springfield Board of Education recently passed a resolution urging the Missouri General Assembly to sustain the Governor’s veto of House Bill No. 253:

    “Today, Missouri’s GDP is up, unemployment is down and our perfect credit rating is intact. However, House Bill 253 puts all of this progress in jeopardy by funneling millions of dollars away from our public schools – and into the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists – each and every year. House Bill 253 is a reckless fiscal experiment cooked up by a few special interests that could knock Missouri permanently off course and send us heading in the wrong direction.”

    On September 11, the Missouri General Assembly will vote to sustain or override Governor Nixon’s veto of House Bill No. 253. 109 votes would be necessary for a House override, at which time the bill would move into the Missouri Senate. 23 senators would need to vote in favor of overriding the Governor’s veto.

    If Governor Nixon’s veto is overruled, Missouri’s schools will suffer. To find out how HB 253 would affect your local school district, click here.

    To stay up-to-date on this and other policies issues that could affect your child’s access to a free, quality public education, sign up today for MO Parent email updates.


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