April 29, 2004

Release Of $197 Million Withholding Still Leaves Education Under Funded

Is the glass half empty or half full? That is the image being created by many educators with the announcement earlier this month that money that was withheld from education by Governor Bob Holden was being released to the school districts.

The announcement may have seemed like good news for education funding but members of the Scotland County R-I School Board pointed out the $197 million released to education funding still leaves the foundation formula under funded.

“Before we become elated at the release of these funds, we should be disappointed that there was not appropriated adequate monies to fully fund the formula,” said SCR-I Superintendent LeRoy Huff.

Prior to the release of the governor’s withholdings from education, the foundation formula was only receiving 89-percent of the revenue required to meet full funding. Even when the money was released, it brought the foundation formula to just 92-percent funding.

“For the past two years, the formula has been under funded and this year the under funding will be even larger than last year,” said Huff.

The SCR-I district is anticipating a five-percent funding decline beyond the 2002-03 year cuts.

“That is not acceptable,” Huff said. “The message to the powers-that-be in Jefferson City must continue to be that the release of the withheld monies is a step in the right direction but we must have 100-percent of the required formula monies to properly educate our youth.”

The SCR-I board also discussed the impact the passage of 91 separate school district tax levy increases across the state will have on state funding for education.

Huff told the board these local levy increases likely will take another two percent or more of the percentage of monies that will be available to each school in the state next year. As the local tax revenues increase it means the state will have to match those local dollars with added state funding for these 91 schools.

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