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TODAY'S QUESTION: Should Missouri fully fund K-12 Education Foundation Formula?

Monday, January 25, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 12:07 p.m. CST, Monday, January 25, 2010

In the midst of the budget shortfall Missouri is experiencing, the K-12 Education Foundation Formula will take a hit in funding.

The foundation formula, revised in 2005, augments the basic aid schools get from the state.

The proposed total amount would still give public education more than $3 billion, which would be a record, but it wouldn't be the full amount expected. State school districts will not receive the $43 million midyear increase for this current school year nor receive full funding for the 2010-11 school year.

Instead of the nearly $106 million need next year to fully fund the formula, public schools are scheduled to receive $18 million.

This appears to be a different budget approach from the previous year, when Gov. Jay Nixon touted the importance of education for young Missourians regardless of economic hardships.

“So even in these difficult economic times, we must fully fund the education foundation formula,” Nixon said in last year’s State of the State address. “That is not negotiable.”

Concerning the proposed budget, state Budget Director Linda Luebbering said any increase in funding is good considering the circumstances. Luebbering has previously said there is an $80 million revenue shortfall from riverboat gambling and the state lottery, which support the foundation formula.

To offset less-than-expected funding, Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association, said schools may consider freezing salaries, cutting extracurricular activities or switching to a four-day school week.

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, said the 2005 law contains no provision for prorating the money due schools when funding falls short, potentially leaving Missouri vulnerable to legal action.

Considering economic hardships and possible legal ramifications, should the state continue to fully fund the education foundation formula?


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