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Vol. 46, No. 5
January 19, 2012

Education Officials Grateful for Proposed School Funding Levels

State education officials expressed appreciation for the proposed budget recommendation made Tuesday night by Gov. Jay Nixon to fund Missouri classrooms at a record level.

In his 2012 State of the State address, Gov. Nixon presented a budget which would infuse an overall increase of $5 million to the state’s school foundation formula. The governor’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal also provides stable funding for school transportation, which has faced reductions in recent years.

“We are pleased with the recommendation the Governor made to keep funding for public education a priority in our state,” said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro.

“If the budget is approved as recommended, it would be the largest amount ever distributed to schools through the foundation formula,” she said.  “This is very significant, especially in light of extraordinary challenges facing members of the General Assembly as they work to balance the budget.”

The foundation formula is the major source of basic state support for public schools serving nearly 920,000 Missouri students attending grades pre-K to 12.  Currently, 558 Missouri school districts and charter schools share $3 billion per year through the formula, which is distributed by the state department of education.

Additional funding for the foundation formula has not been available since the 2009-10 school year.  The recession halted the state’s ability to increase funding levels as set by state law in 2005.  The current law calls for a seven-year phase-in schedule of about $120 million additionally each year. Without new funding, Nicastro said, the inflexible formula design has now become problematic as it no longer applies the formula predictably across school districts.

Gov. Nixon and the State Board of Education have called for a legislative solution.

“We are pleased legislation has been filed to address distribution problems with the formula,” said Nicastro.  “We hope agreement can be reached that will help us avoid potentially drastic shifts in how funding will be distributed among schools in the 2012-13 school year.”