Budgeting the Right Amount

1 decade 7 months 4 days ago February 23, 2006 Feb 23, 2006 Thursday, February 23 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:44:49 PM CST in News

The Centralia School District spends more than 65% of its budget in the classroom. But Superintendent Glenn Brown says it's just a number.

"I think this 65% is something that's come from outside the state, and I dont think it's very well conceptualized by people," Brown explained. "I think it's meant for political purposes, and why are we making kids the ball in a political game?"

Blunt's office says 65% makes sense for Missouri schools.

"The 65% comes from something that's commonly used in business where you look at the top tier of an industry and you say, 'What are they doing? Well, what are they doing right? What do they have in common?' said Jessica Robinson, Blunt's spokesperson. "And you try to modify and exemplify and use that as an example."

Only four states in the U.S. put at least 65% of their education budgets in the classroom. New York is one of them. It ranks number-one in education according to First Class Education, a national group that wants  the 65% plan in all 50 states. The other three states are Maine, Utah and Tennessee. Those states rank second, fifth and seventh, respectively.

If his plan is put into effect, Blunt says it will add $272 million to classroom spending without additional state funds. The money would come from other areas in each district's budget, such as administration, maintenance, food service and library.

Although Centralia Schools already meet Blunt's proposed 65% standard, Superintendent Brown says doing that won't be easy for some schools.

"Kids don't always come to kindergarten with the resources, and having come from a family that spent time teaching them how to learn and read and do other things and prepare them, we're very lucky. Here in Centralia we do, so the amount of money we have to spend on remedial education and those kind of things is a very small part of our budget."

Robinson responded, "The bottom line is, that's money that didn't go to the classroom, that didn't go to textbooks, that didn't go to help those teachers in the classroom where it makes a difference and where learning occurs."

Brown isn't convinced.

"I don't think if you put this into effect that it will have a positive impact," he said. "It will more than likely have a very negative impact on education."

Even if state lawmakers pass Blunt's plan, the public will still be able to vote on it next November.

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