More money for schools advised

Expert recommends $800 million more
on public education.
Friday, February 2, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:44 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri should spend an additional $800 million on public education, an expert who has studied school finance in more than 20 states testified Thursday.

The assertion by consultant John Myers provided a second expert opinion for school districts suing the state on claims it doesn’t spend enough on public schools and distributes the money unfairly.

A day earlier, another expert used various statistical models to assert that Missouri needs to add as much as $1.3 billion to public schools.

Myers’ company conducted a study in 2003 for an organization made up of Missouri education and business groups that found the state should have spent an additional $913 million during the 2001-02 school year to provide students an adequate education.

Thursday, Myers said he updated his research and found that Missouri schools needed about $800 million more as of last school year. Myers said he used the basic approach from a few years ago and updated it to account for inflation, changes in student populations and additional money the state has directed toward education.

The state’s attorney responded that the new formula is expected to add $846 million to schools when fully phased in over several years.

John Munich, a private attorney hired to help defend Missouri’s school funding system, countered during cross-examination that there’s no proof higher funding leads to improvement in academic performance.

“There is an absence of such a simple relationship,” Munich said. “Some researchers believe there is no clear statistical relationship between spending and academic performance. There is no scientific certainty about the number of dollars it would take to raise achievement to a specified level.”

Myers responded that while there’s no precise number to cite, there is a clear pattern.

“Higher performing places spend more money,” he said. “There’s public policy science as well as pure mathematical science.”

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