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Missouri second-to-last in school funding, state audit finds

Missouri second-to-last in school funding, state audit finds

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Most public school districts nationwide receive the majority of their funding from their state budgets. In Missouri, local communities shoulder most of the cost.

The state ranks 49th in K-12 education funding, paying out less than one-third of the per-student spending for Missouri’s 555 public and charter school districts. The national average for state funding is closer to 60%, according to a report released Thursday from state auditor Nicole Galloway.

Missouri’s schools must rely disproportionately on local property taxes compared to other states.

Total state funding for Missouri schools has kept up with inflation, Galloway found. But the state’s target for “adequate” per pupil spending has declined when adjusted for inflation, the report said.

“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,” Galloway said in a statement. “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.”

Margie Vandeven, Missouri’s education commissioner, did not respond Thursday to Galloway’s report.

The state school funding formula was not fully funded from 2013 through 2017. The Missouri Legislature then reinstated a spending cap, which has returned districts to a classification of “fully funded” but has not matched inflation rates.

A state auditor’s report from 2018 found that 68% of Missouri’s school districts had increased their reliance on local property taxes in the previous decade.

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