Missouri Faces Challenges of Adequately Funding Education

January 5, 2005 – Posted at 4:12 p.m. CST
SENATH , MO -- Missouri lawmakers now face the challenge of adequately funding education.
It's a subject familiar to Arkansas lawmakers...now, Missouri Senate Bill 287 changes the state's formula for providing aid to local school districts.  In it, Governor Blunt asks schools to spend more than half of its funding inside classrooms, but some rural schools don’t believe it’s an option.
“They try to target some of the money in the new formula towards areas in special or higher needs,” said Superintendent Yancy Poorman of the Senath-Hornersville School District, “We felt like that was a good attempt, but when you still look at the final figures it doesn't necessarily equalize or adequately fund what we feel like a public school student is worth.”
The Senath-Hornersville school district has around 860 students. Administrators believe that funding should be focused on the classroom and benefit students, but recognize that it's not a one size fits all program. Governor Blunt has proposed that schools spend at least 65% of their funding inside their classrooms, but superintendent Poorman says with a school district 214 square miles in size, that is simply just not possible.
“To service the students in that rural area, things are vital to us like transportation and those are some of the things that aren't included in the 65%. So, I've got to get them here if I want to teach them anything,” said Poorman.
While Poorman says there are a lot of similarities between Arkansas and Missouri ’s educational obstacles...he hopes that the show-me state won't resort to consolidation.
“We're much like Arkansas in that rural schools have a great deal of pride, great deal of respect. Its community based and oriented...basically, we're the biggest game in town. Usually the largest employer in some small communities. So, I think that the people of Missouri will fight and struggle to hang on to their schools,” said Poorman.
Bill 287 was signed by the Governor last June and will go into effect July 1st of this year.