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Missouri Board of Education requests a 12 percent increase in the K-12 funding formula

Cornelia Li
Special to NPR
The Missouri State Board of Education is proposing a 12 percent increase in the K-12 school funding formula over the next two years. It would be the first increase to the formula since 2020.

The Missouri State Board of Education is requesting a 12 percent increase in the state’s K-12 school funding formula. It would be the first bump in the formula since 2020.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to submit the request proposed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which would increase the target for funding from $6,375 to $7,145 per student a year over the next two fiscal years.

Kari Monsees, the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Administrative and Financial Services, presented the proposed increase to the board Tuesday morning.

“Half of it goes into the first fiscal year request,” Monsees said. “The other half goes into the second in terms of the increase, so next year, FY25, it would be $6,760, and the following year, it would be $7,145.”

Monsees said several factors went into recalculating the funding formula. He said they include a drop in enrollment, and a decrease in average daily attendance in schools across the state.

During discussion, board members asked Monsees for more details about the drop in state enrollment during the pandemic.

“What we saw mostly were very young students [who] just didn't enter the system at all, whether pre-kindergarten or kindergarten,” Monsees said, “and I think many of those students are still being homeschooled at this point, and haven't entered the formal educational system.”

Monsees added that he thinks the state could see those students re-enter the public school system over time.

Board vice-president Carol Hallquist said this problem isn’t unique to Missouri.

“I think during the pandemic, we taught the culture that you can work from home, and we were losing a lot of our students because of that, and we need them back in our schools,” Hallquist said, “but the point I want to make is this is a national situation.”

If the board’s request is ultimately approved by the governor and general assembly, it would cost an additional $120 million over two years.

Brian Moline is an editor at St. Louis Public Radio, working on the education and business/economic development beats.