The recently-concluded General Assembly Veto Session gave lawmakers and other state officials a chance to discuss budget problems faced by the state and how those problems will impact various government activities. It’s difficult to predict whether education will be spared as belts are tightened.
"I think our biggest challenge, this year, is going to be the budget," said Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro. "There is no question that the fiscal realities of Missouri and of our country are such that that we are going to have to make some very difficult choices."
Nicastro understands that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and our public schools will have to get the most out of every dollar that is allocated. And she realizes we are going through some tough economic times.
"The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has an interesting role," said Nicastro. "Our role, really, is to secure the best quality education for the children of this state that we can. Having said that, we also have to be a part of the state team, and that means that we’re going to have to support the General Assembly, the Governor, other departments as we all work together to craft a path for Missouri that gets us through this tough time."
As for whether things might be so tough that the school funding formula might not be fully funded, Nicastro remains optimistic.
"That’s one of the things we’re working through right now," said Nicastro. "I think we’re going to be working closely with the Office of Administration to determine what those numbers look like."
Nicastro moved into the post in August, succeeding the late Commissioner Kent King who died in January following a lengthy illness.