January 20, 2011

DESE Report Card for SCR-I Highlights Rising Costs of Education

Students have to sweat it out four times a year as the school sends grade cards home to parents. It's only fair that the educational institute experience some of the same stress as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education annually releases report cards for school districts. The 2010 school district grades were released in December by DESE.

The DESE accountability report card for Scotland County R-I reveals the district continues to get more bang for its buck compared to districts across Missouri.

The 2010 report card revealed the SCR-I district has an average current expenditure per student of $8,534 compared to the state average of $9,751. Those figures have been on the rise over the past four years. SCR-I has seen its per student expenditures rise from $7,105 in 2006, to $7,568 the following year. In 2008 that number went up to $7,905 and then to $8,450 last year. That follows a similar trend across the state, where per pupil expenditures have risen more than $1,500 since the state average was $8,221 in 2006.

With the rising cost of education, funding continues to be a concern facing state lawmakers, particularly after the 2010 report cards reveal a huge spike in federal funding that likely will have to be replaced at the state and local levels in the near future.

Those concerns likely will impact smaller, rural schools like SCR-I even more than urban counterparts. The 2010 report card revealed that 47.3 percent of the district's revenue was generated locally, with 33.2 percent of funding coming from the state with the remaining 19.5% being federally funded. Statewide, Missouri schools average 56.1% local funding with 29% of revenue coming from the state and 14.9 being funded with federal dollars.

Those figures shifted dramatically toward Washington D.C. in 2010, as the rate of federal funding jumped from 8.4% across Missouri in 2009. That made up for a nearly 5% decrease in the total bill being footed by the state.

SCR-I got by on fewer local dollars than most districts, as the 2010 levy was reduced to $3.25 from the $3.36 level it had been at since 2007. That compares favorably to the statewide levy average of $3.276 and looks even better considering SCR-I has no levy rates for debt services, capital projects or teacher funds. Districts across Missouri tack on an average of $0.16 for teacher salaries, $0.41 for debt service and $0.064 for capital projects bringing the average Missouri school district tax levy to $3.92 compared to SCR-I's current levy of $3.2484.

While the local levy did go down in 2010, a part of the revenue was made up by the fact that Scotland County's assessed valuation increased more than $2.6 million last year to $47,320,514.

The levy was not the only key figure that declined in 2010. Enrollment at SCR-I continued a five-year downward trend that saw just 589 students in K-12 enrolled on the official recording date, the last Wednesday in September. Enrollment was 642 students in 2006. Statewide there were 892,276 students enrolled in 2010, a slight increase from last year, but still below the previous three year totals by as much as 8,500 students.

SCR-I continues to have solid attendance figures recording a 96.1% attendance record compared to the statewide average of 94.2%. The district did see a significant drop in its graduation rate, falling to the state average of 85.7% in 2010. The year before 95.2% of SCR-I seniors graduated.

Nearly two thirds of the SCR-I Class of 2010 went on to further their education, with junior college the top choice. More than 42% of SCR-I graduates attended two-year colleges this year with 16.9% going to four year colleges or universities and 3.4 attending post secondary technical institutes.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Report Card for the 09-10 school year for the SCR-I district is available for the public to view by accessing the DESE website at www.dese.mo.gov.

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