Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report that examined funding trends in K-12 education in the state. The report found Missouri ranks near the bottom for the portion of classroom funding that comes from state sources and the formula calculating per-student funding has not kept up with inflation.
"The state is not stepping up to meet the needs of students in Missouri, shifting the burden and leaving Missourians paying higher property taxes to support their schools," Auditor Galloway said. "The opportunity for a quality education is key to ensuring economic growth. My report details the facts that can spur change at the state level so we no longer rank at the bottom when it comes to supporting schools."
The report looked at the portion of school funding that comes from state sources. In Missouri, state funding accounts for about 32% of per-student funding. That places Missouri at 49th nationally for percentage of school resources coming from state funding. As a result, schools rely heavily on local sources like property taxes to fund schools.
The issue of Missourians carrying a greater tax burden at the local level was first discussed by Auditor Galloway in a report released in February 2018 that examined the state's annual budgeting process. That report found 68 percent of local school districts had seen an increase in reliance on local funding over the past 10 years.
The report also looked at funding provided through the State Adequacy Target (SAT), the mechanism used to determine whether the state has met its obligation to fund schools. This funding has not kept up with inflation.
The report looked at 10 years of data and found that from 2013-2017, the state did not meet its per-student funding obligation, a number that is based on average operating expenditures of the 25 top-performing school districts. Changes were made to the formula to cap growth and limit increases. While these changes have resulted in the formula being fully funded, the current formula to calculate the amount distributed has not kept up with inflation.
The complete audit report is available here.