October 25, 2014

New school funding system suggested (AUDIO)

The failure of the legislature to keep its promises on full funding of the state aid program for schools, and action by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are leading to a call for a new distribution formula.

The legislature approved a new funding distribution system in 2005 and committed itself to fully funding the formula in seven annual steps.  Then the ecomy fell apart and the legislature has fallen far behind that commitment.  

Kirkwood Senator Eric Schmitt hopes the legislature holds hearings next summer leading to a new school foundation formula. 

He accuses the education department of making pro-rata cuts in funding to local districts—even those that the current formula says will not be cut.  Under those circumstances, he says, a new formula is needed.

Senate appropriations chairman Kurt Schaefer says the numbers emphasize the need. He notes the formula is underfunded by $450 million in this fiscal year.  He expects budget recommendations from the governor tonight that will increase that deficit to $600 million.

Schmitt says the education department is ignoring the formula law’s requirements when the formula is underfunded and is creating a situation that harms 150 school districts and is likely to generate lawsuits that the state will lose.

AUDIO: Floor discussion 11:39