The State Board of Education is requesting full funding for Missouri's school foundation formula, funds for a new student assessment contract and additional money to assist low-performing schools and districts in its budget request for fiscal year 2015.
Meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City, the State Board finalized its proposed budget, which now goes to the state's Office of Administration for review. The $6.1 billion budget request reflects an increase of $604.8 million over the final budget approved by the General Assembly for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for fiscal year 2014. Much of the requested increase comes from an additional $556 million needed to fully fund the school foundation formula.
The foundation formula, created by state law, is Missouri’s primary method of distributing money to public schools.
"School districts throughout the state have worked very hard to weather tough economic times while preparing children for a rapidly changing world and workplace," said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "Full funding for the foundation formula would help schools provide students with the knowledge and skills they need for success in college, other postsecondary training, and careers."
Foundation formula funding is the major source of state aid for public schools and is used primarily to pay teachers’ salaries. The formula for distributing the funds to Missouri schools is based on a number of factors including student attendance; local property tax rates; the proportion of students in a district who are disadvantaged or need special education; and other factors.
The State Board is also requesting an additional $18.5 million for Missouri's statewide student assessment system. The state's contract for student assessment expired in June. The budget request increase reflects the costs of a new contract, which includes assessments in English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and personal finance.
The contract covers test development, administration, scoring, security and reporting for Missouri's annual student assessment testing. For the first time, the contract includes formative assessments that can be used by classroom teachers to see how students are progressing in their learning and help educators determine where additional instruction is needed.
Approximately $2.9 million is being requested to provide support and interventions to improve struggling schools and professional development programs designed to strengthen educational leadership in Missouri's schools. The funds would support the Missouri School Improvement Program, which provides assistance for all school districts, and the Missouri Turnaround Network, which focuses on improving the state's lowest-performing schools and districts. A portion of the funding would be used for the Missouri Leadership for Excellence, Achievement and Development (MoLEAD) program, an executive training program designed to develop education leaders in Missouri's elementary and secondary schools.
Also included in the State Board's budget request is $6.8 million to assist the Normandy School District with the costs of paying tuition and transportation for students transferring out of the district while maintaining educational programs for students remaining in the district. The district is required to pay the tuition and transportation costs as a result of the Missouri Supreme Court's decision in June that supported state law allowing students in an unaccredited school district to transfer to an accredited district located in the same county or an adjoining county.
The State Board's budget request supports the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's efforts to improve student achievement through its Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for the Missouri to be among the top 10 performing states in the nation in education by the year 2020.