Missouri lawmakers debate school-aid formula change

Six years ago, Missouri lawmakers wrote a new formula for distributing aid to the state’s 522 public school districts.

That formula made several substantial changes from previous financing plans on how the money was to be distributed and, for the first time, based the formula on the costs of educating students as shown by certain high-performing districts.

But the 2005 law’s seven-year phase-in period for switching to the new plan from the 1993 law hasn’t even been finished yet, and the state’s tight financial situation has forced lawmakers to provide less money than planned.

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Among the issues of contention is the amount of money distributed to so-called "hold-harmless" school districts, which are guaranteed to get aid at a specified funding level comparable to the amount they received under the old formula, if the new formula would provide less.

Those 161 districts include Camdenton R-3, Climax Springs R-6, Jamestown C-1, Tuscumbia R-3, Chamois R-1, School of the Osage, South Callaway R-2 and St. Elizabeth R-4.

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