House Committee Approves Shift In State Funding To Local Schools

The House Education Committee approved a measure that could give extra state funds to lower-funded schools in a year when the state is facing the potential of a near standstill budget for public education.

Missouri’s current formula for allocating funds to local schools is based an expectation of major funding increases to correct unequal levels of per-student spending among Missouri’s school districts.

The state’s stagnant economy, however, has prevented the state for the last few years from meeting the formula’s funding requirements. For the next fiscal year, the state would be about $500 million below the “full funding” requirement of the law.

The measure approved by the House committee effectively would impose cuts per-student state funding for better off districts, called “hold-harmless” districts, in order to free up funds for the poorer districts.

A similar plan to scale back state funding to hold-harmless districts, many in suburban areas, was blocked last year from a vote in the Senate by opponents who said it would be unfair to their districts that could see a reduction in state funding.