School board to discuss funding

Today’s talk will focus on the impact of the new school formula.
Thursday, June 23, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:52 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

The Columbia School Board will meet today to discuss the new state foundation formula and its implications for Columbia Public Schools.

Deputy Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said Columbia schools receive between $1.5 million and $2.2 million each year under the current formula. With the new formula, Columbia schools would receive about $1.3 million over seven years, Cowherd said.

Superintendent Phyllis Chase and Cowherd will outline the new formula, which is used to calculate the amount of state funding the district receives, and highlight the possible effects on Columbia’s budget planning.

The new formula will go into effect in the 2006-07 school year. The formula uses students’ needs, rather than local property taxes, as the main factor in determining the amount of money given to the district.

Cowherd said the foundation formula has not been fully funded since 2001 because of reductions at the state level. As a result, Columbia schools have lost about $48 million over the past three years, he said. The district compensates for the lack of shortfall in state funding by dipping into its reserves. For the 2005-06 school year, the district will reduce its reserves from 21.3 percent to 18.25 percent.

“The thought process is that the state is going to have some tough times, and we’ll use those monies to get us through those tough times,” Cowherd said.

Cowherd said the administration is currently looking at projections and working through the new formula using current data for the district.

At last week’s meeting, the board adopted a budget for 2005-06 with about $181.6 million for expenditures and about $175.6 million of revenues. The board also approved a $19,000 base salary raise for Superintendent Phyllis Chase, bringing her total compensation to about $180,000, said Chris Mallory, school board secretary and assistant superintendent.

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