Lawmakers Reluctant to Move on School Funding
"First of all, it strips local control from the communities," said Democratic Rep. Michael Corcoran of St. Louis County. "It's not a 'one size fits all' proposal. Every district has different demographics and I think we need to leave the local control up to those local school boards. Like I said, these school districts are doing their job, they are educating students, and we're going to try and take local control away from them and penalize them? I don't think that's the direction we want to head."
Jackson County Republican Rep. Gary Dusenberg added, "I think it's something that should be a target for administrators and school officials rather than being mandated by law. That's my main issue with it."
The plan calls for Missouri public school districts to spend 65% of their money on "direct classroom instruction."
Opponents don't like the plan's definition of "direct classroom instruction," because it includes after-school activities and athletics, but does not include guidance counseling and library services.
"I think the governor's 65% plan is dead on arrival in the legislature," said Columbia Democratic Sen. Chuck Graham. "It just doesn't make a lot of sense the way he's proposed it, where money spent on an athletic field counts as instruction in the classroom, but money spent in a library doesn't. It's just fundamentally flawed and I don't think it has a prayer of passing."
Some Republican lawmakers think the proposal will pass, but probably not in its current form.
"It has met with some reservations, especially among those in the administration of our public schools," added Dexter Republican Sen. Rob Mayer. "But we have worked to make some improvements and some changes in the legislation that I think will make it much more palatable than the original version."
The proposal's final version could be ready for lawmakers in the next two weeks. If they pass it, voters will then make the final decision whether the funding plan becomes law.