Missouri Public School Funding Creates "Winners and Losers"

6 years 2 months 1 week ago Sunday, April 08 2012 Apr 8, 2012 Sunday, April 08, 2012 8:16:00 PM CDT April 08, 2012 in News
By: Elizabeth Hagedorn

JEFFERSON CITY - The state's formula for funding public education is running out of funding just seven years after Missouri lawmakers first calculated  it.

The state's "foundation formula" is the primary means by which the state gives funding to elementary and secondary schools. The current formula is meant to fill the funding gap when local property taxes in a district fall short. Put in place in 2005, the formula now faces a budget shortfall of more than $300 million dollars.

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/40027072" width="300" height="245" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

A Tale of Two Cities

One school has a budget of more than $50 million, and Newsweek named it one of "America's Best of High Schools." The other is struggling to retain its teachers, and students go to class in buildings that haven't been renovated in more than 80 years. Both are Missouri public schools.

Located in suburban St. Louis, Ladue Horton Watkins High School offers 26 MSHSAA sports and activities, maintains state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and has some of the nation's highest Advanced Placement college credit test scores. "Ladue, that's a private school, right?" is a common misconception.

"I think sometimes, we can step back take a minute to look at it and say, ‘woah, we've got it good, said Ladue senior Joshua Wolderufael.

"We don't have any of things," said Cabool High School senior Nathan Christensen.

At Nathan's high school, located in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, students don't have nearly the same resources as their counterparts in Ladue.

A few years ago, the school's Spanish teacher left, and the school hasn't been able to find a replacement since. Because of a cash-strapped budget, the school also had to let go of its Special Education teacher, and it can only pay its physics teacher to work part-time.

Cabool Schools Superintendent Wesley Davis says run-down facilities are another problem.

"Energy efficiency is awful, the windows are awful, the flooring is awful," said Davis.

The stark differences between schools like Ladue and Cabool have been the subject of debate for years, and have left some wondering if the state should do more to level the playing field.

A Question of Equitability and Adequacy
In 2009, half of Missouri's school districts filed suit against the state on the grounds that the formula for funding public schools was inadequate and unequal.

But the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled the state's equal protection clause does not guarantee "equitable education spending."
Judge Michael Wolff, now a professor at St. Louis University, was the only judge to dissent in part. Wolff said the current system of funding is set up to have wide disparities.

"It's very hard to argue that the Missouri Constitution requires equality when the system is set up to ensure inequality," said Wolff.

This wasn't the first time Missouri's funding formula had been litigated. In both 1993 and 2004, the court heard challenges over the constitutionality of the way the state funds its public schools.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Deputy Commissioner Ron Lankford said he expects this current formula could soon be litigated.

But then when you look at all school districts in the state of Missouri, we also have to understand that at some point equity is an issue," said Lankford.

School Finance Stalls in State Legislature

At the beginning of the session, leaders in both parties said funding the formula this session would be at the top of the agenda. Representative Mike Thomson, R-Maryville and Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, introduced bills that would make changes to the formula.
Both bills adjust how "formula" districts and "hold harmless" districts are funded. When the formula was first created, certain districts, often those in affluent areas, were told they would not receive any cuts to their budget.

In both the Pearce and Thomson legislation, hold harmless schools would take less of a funding hit in years when the formula is underfunded.

DESE Deputy Commissioner Ron Lankford says that his department backs both pieces of legislation.

"The main issue is driven by the fact that we have a formula that was phased in over time, and now we're underfunded," said Lankford.

But with just six weeks left in the session, politics have the bills tied up. Senator Pearce's bill hasn't moved out of committee. In the House, Thomson's bill and several other education bills were put into a omnibus package.

Representative Sara Lampe, D- Springfield, said having so many controversial measures in one bill makes the likelihood of it actually passing somewhat slim.

"Is there any possibility that we're going to have that discussion in this legislative session? I'm doubtful of that," said Lampe.

Last year, several senators filibustered a similar bill. Senator Eric Schmitt, R- Glendale, said Pearce's funding formula fix isn't "fair" to all schools.

"So far the only thing on the table is shifting $60 million away from schools, quite frankly that I represent," said Schmitt.

The trouble is that it's difficult politically because without more money into the system it's primarly a zero-sum game. Equal numbers of winners and losers, said Missouri National Education Assocation Legislative Director Otto Fajen.

Thomson concedes his bill wouldn't solve all the problems because there are some factors out of the state's control. Factors like community support and varying attitudes toward education, he says can't be legislated.

"How do we really legislate those things in the community that really are what we need to educate kids?" said Thomson.

But unless the formula is funded at the end of this year, some districts could gain and other could lose millions.

"The first [education] appropriation from the state assembly was $1,999.60. And today it's $3 billion. We will always be challenged to meet the things that we must do, and then the things we must do in addition to ensure that kids have opportunities," said Lankford.

 

More News

Grid
List
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" as... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:08:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri democrats want Governor Mike Parson fire his chief operating officer and cancel a contract awarded to... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri air conditioning companies are facing the busiest time of year amid a four-day heat advisory. Craig... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 5:16:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The attorney representing the security guard who shot Anthony Warren at a Waffle House on New Year's Day... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 3:12:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The 600 block of Monroe Street will be closed until Friday. Construction crews are removing a retaining... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A death, a huge cache of weapons and a suspect whose gun jammed as he was aiming... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:17:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson appointed state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe to be the new lieutenant... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 1:15:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport may reach new heights after the city council accepted a bid and authorized a... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 12:42:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - City public works crews will be repairing a road buckle on Providence Road between Blue Ridge Road and... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 11:39:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BALLWIN (AP) — Another bear sighting has people concerned in part of Missouri, but this time, it's deep into... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 9:45:39 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY – The Katy Trail will see more bike traffic than usual this week with the 2018 Katy Trail... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:33:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is under a heat advisory until Monday evening. The National Weather Service issued the advisory on... More >>
22 hours ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:29:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
FULTON - Forty people with disabilities will learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle at the iCan Bike camp this... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:18:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri is the first and only state to define "meat" as exclusively animal product. The Missouri General... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 4:55:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The city will discuss the results of the 2017 Community Survey at Monday's city council meeting. Used... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 4:06:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Sunny Oaks Charity Horse Show brought about 20 riders out Sunday afternoon to compete for ribbons and... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 3:36:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD - A Hickman High School graduate has surrounded herself with Kewpies. The dolls' trademark round eyes watch happily from... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 8:05:00 AM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people impacted by cancer gathered together on a track Saturday in support of cancer fighters and... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 10:11:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 87°
9pm 85°
10pm 83°
11pm 82°
12am 80°