School funding

Monday, May 16, 2005

Missouri legislators are changing the way education gets funded in the state thanks to passage of a $1 billion education reform bill. The measure awaits Gov. Matt Blunt's approval, merely a formality.

Under the new bill, school districts would move away from a funding formula driven by local property taxes. Currently, schools are funded by their district's local levy.

The new formula assumes all districts have a levy of $3.43 per $100 assessed valuation. So districts are neither punished for having a level lower than that nor rewarded for having higher levies.

The formula is to be implemented over a seven-year period, beginning with the 2006-2007 school year. By the final year, the cost of the formula and a supplementary fund for smaller districts is estimated at $952 million.

Some legislators are concerned that there is no revenue source for the measure, and that supporters are expecting to find revenue through natural growth. But many supporters believe the long implementation period will help the state meet reasonable yearly funding goals.

The bill isn't perfect. No one really expected it to be. But it seems to be a step in the right direction for Missouri's schools and our children.

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