The state House has given initial approval to reinstating a cap on how much the state needs to give public schools each year.
That amount called for by the K-12 funding formula grows each year and the bill would put back a 5-percent cap the legislature removed in 2010. Representative David Wood (R-Versailles) said that would allow the legislature to fully fund the formula.
“To fully fund education there’s always going to be another program that’s available – something else that we want to give money to, so it’s not really possible to fund education but it is possible to fund the Foundation Formula,” said Wood. “That’s what we need to do to help out the schools in the state.”
Wood said even if the state could find the $550-million needed to fully fund the formula, the formula would grow that by another $400-million next year. He said putting the cap back won’t fully fund education but it will set the formula’s mark at an attainable level.
“We would have roughly $140-million we would have to come up with instead of $550-million. This doesn’t hurt any school, it increases the funding. It will guarantee a five-percent increase that we can actually meet every other year,” said Wood.
Democrats including Michael Butler (St. Louis) said the bill only allows the state to settle for less K-12 education funding.
“We are $550-million from making the school districts in suburban areas equal to those in rural and urban areas. What this bill will do is eliminate that number – will say that problem no longer exists and we do not have to make school districts equal,” said Butler.
Representative Margo McNeil (D-Florissant) said the cap would only mean schools would receive less money.
“I am not going to jeopardize the financial stability of my district or the majority of districts in this state by voting for a bill that makes it look like we put more money into the formula when we did not,” said McNeil.
Among the bills other provisions, it would let districts adjust the length of school days, and would limit the number of days of summer school a district could be reimbursed for.
Another favorable vote sends it to the Senate.