Missouri Plan Prorates Funding Shortfall Among Districts

Last Updated: July 27, 2012

This article appeared in the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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Recession-related funding shortfalls are having a major impact on the Missouri’s poorest school districts. After the state legislature refused to act to address a shortfall in education funding, the State Department of Educationstepped up with a plan that will prorate funding cuts to districts. The plan cuts state funding to most districts and minimizes major shifts in state funding among districts. Under the plan, poorer districts will not receive the funding increases they were due through the state’s funding formula. (See the April RSFN story about the Missouri legislative statement here: http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=2880.)

The Missouri school finance formula, adopted in 2005, calls for a “state adequacy target,” a base amount of combined state and local funding for each child.

The base has been $6,131 per pupil and was scheduled to increase to $6,423 for the 2012–13 school year and rise to $6,716 the following year. The state, however is $250 million short of the $6131 target and projected to be $700 million short of the $6,716 target.

The State Department of Education plan freezes aid at the current $6,131 target and prorates cuts to make up the $250 million shortfall.

This means districts with least local ability may not face cuts as severe as they might have if across-the-board proration had been implemented, but they will not receive scheduled increases either.

The state’s wealthiest districts will also see cuts in state aid, although their funding levels will remain higher than most other districts. These “hold harmless” districts receive more state funding than needed to meet the state adequacy target, but the 2005 formula capped rather than reduced their state aid.

While the State Department plan is seen as stabilizing in the short run, critics point out that the state’s poorest districts are bearing the brunt of the state’s funding shortfall and that a long term fix is needed to insure that the formula can be implemented.

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Local coverage of the State Department plan:


Read more from the July 2012 Rural Policy Matters.