CONTACT: JIM MORRIS
Vol. 44, No. 7
January 22, 2010
State Has Protected Local Schools from Financial Crisis, Nicastro Says
Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro says public education in Missouri has fared far better than in many other states. “Despite the state’s tremendous budget challenges, the Governor has recommended $63 million in additional revenue to make up for the loss in gaming revenue for the current year,” Nicastro said.
“School officials throughout the state have been dealing with the economic slump for months, making adjustments in their budgets and anticipating possible reductions in state aid. We think most school districts will get through this year in pretty good shape due to this careful planning,” she said.
While public schools in some states have already been hit with big losses in state aid, Missouri’s $3 billion “foundation program” for schools has not been affected to date. With this week’s budget announcements, small adjustments will need to be made.
Nicastro said her staff is working now to recalculate districts’ aid payments for the rest of the year. Updated information will be provided to all school districts soon.
“There is no question that Missouri is in an unprecedented financial slump, which has affected every part of our state. Gov. Nixon and the legislature, however, have made unprecedented efforts to shield public schools from the brunt of the financial crisis. School officials are grateful for that support. It has enabled our schools to adjust their budgets gradually and deal with the economic slump in an orderly way, thus protecting classroom services for students,” she said.
The governor’s recommendations for next year include an additional $18 million for the foundation formula.
Gov. Nixon also has called for continued funding of the state’s “career ladder” program ($37.4 million) which supplements salaries for about one-fourth of Missouri’s teachers, as well as a $12 million increase in funding for early childhood special education services for 3- and 4-year-olds.
“Our public schools have weathered the nation’s economic crisis very well so far, and we have enjoyed remarkable leadership and support from our elected officials during this difficult time. With careful planning, we will get through this together and accelerate our efforts to move Missouri public schools into the Top 10,” Nicastro said.