Schools waiting for lawmakers’ decisions

Twice in the last two months, Jefferson City’s school board has been told that next year’s district operating budget can’t be finished until the Missouri Legislature answers some questions.

“Right now, we’re basing this (budget prediction) on the worst case — that we’re going to lose $1.2 million in state aid,” Chief Financial Officer Jason Hoffman told the board Thursday night.

Last month, he had explained how the 2005 law creating a new state-aid formula was “designed to be phased-in over seven years and fully-funded by next year. It required about $120 million (in additional dollars) each year for the phase-in.”

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But no one in 2005 anticipated a recession and no one told the state Elementary and Secondary Education department how to handle distributing money to 522 different districts when the state was taking-in fewer dollars than had been planned.

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