Data shows Missouri schools rely on local funding

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COLUMBIA - Missouri school districts get a majority of their funding from local revenue versus state and federal funding according to a report released earlier this week. 

The data released by the Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education (DESE) compares total funding received by each district in the years 2006 and 2016, broken down by state and local contributions.

The data found Missouri ranks 4th highest nationally for school districts relying on local funding versus state and federal funding. The state is 48th in the nation in state funding spent. 

"When we talk about county and local funding, essentially we're talking about property taxes," said Brent Ghan, Deputy Executive Director of Missouri School Board's Association (MSBA). Ghan said the ability of districts to pull from local property taxes differs greatly by county size and population. 

Ghan said over the 30 years he has worked with MSBA, trends in educational funding rarely change. 

"Historically, Missouri is a state that values local control and decision making," Ghan said. "Unfortunately it can result in some inequities because some communities are wealthier than others and have the ability to spend more on their students than other school districts do."

DESE's Foundation Formula was established in 2006 as the primary method of distributing state funds to public schools. The formula accounts for multiple factors across districts such as total number of students, cost of living in the district and available local revenue among others. 

Overall, the data also shows an increase in revenue for Missouri school districts across the board. Contributions from local taxes grew by $1 billion dollars from 2006 to 2016, or nearly 24.5 percent. State contributions increased by $700 million.

Ghan said he believes the data is not positive or negative, but how different people interpret it will be based on educational priorities. 

"It varies widely from one school district to another depending on their [financial] situation," Ghan said. "The statewide figures only show so much if a taxpayer is interested in the local district is funded they should ask...because it could differ greatly from the statewide averages."