Published: January 6, 2005
A group called the Committee for Educational Equality successfully sued Missouri in the early 1990s, and in January 2004 the organization filed a second lawsuit. The most recent suit argues that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional for both equity and adequacy reasons. A 2003 adequacy study sponsored by a group of education, business, and philanthropic organizations found that the state needed to add more than $900 million in annual funding for education. Missouri’s current finance system is based on a foundation formula and the number of pupils in each district. The foundation level for school year 2004-05, including both state and local resources, is $4,277 per pupil. To receive state aid, districts must levy a $1.25 property tax for every $100 in assessed valuation. The state does not adjust aid for specific student needs, although the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches is a variable in the at-risk-funding calculation used to determine whether a district qualifies for “hold harmless” funding. Hold-harmless districts are guaranteed at least the amount of state aid they received in the 1992-93 school year, when the state implemented a new finance system. Missouri has categorical programs that support transportation, special education, gifted-and-talented education, professional development, and early-childhood education.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 66