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Governor promotes education
Blunt defends funding formula.

Gov. Matt Blunt made a stop at Southern Boone County Elementary School this morning on a statewide tour touting his commitment to education.

Blunt

Citing education as his highest priority, Blunt outlined his budget recommendations to boost funding for Parents As Teachers, classroom technology and programs to promote math, science and engineering. Funds for these initiatives primarily come from lottery revenue that constitutionally must be spent on public education.

Blunt is also recommending a $121.3 million increase in the stateís school funding formula. Thatís the amount needed to implement this phase of the plan and will not provide any unexpected increases for school districts, said Nick Boren, Columbia Public Schools chief operations officer.

For Columbia, the implementation of the new foundation formula has led to flat revenues. The year before the new formula, Columbia enjoyed annual increases of about $2 million in state aid; during the past couple of years, itís been less than $1 million.

That state funding decrease is part of the reason Columbia is asking voters to approve a 54-cent levy increase in April, board members and Superintendent Phyllis Chase have said.

"I disagree," Blunt said this morning when asked if the state formula shifts the burden to local taxpayers.

Divvying up dollars based on students makes more sense than the old method, he said. The current formula allocates $6,117 per student; the former formula equated state aid with a districtís tax capacity. Blunt also pointed to the fact that the old formula was not fully funded.

Southern Boone County Superintendent Charlotte Miller said she hasnít noticed any significant funding problems from the new formula but stressed that sheís only been in her post since July.

"The board really looks at the budget to balance spending and revenues," she said. "They keep those in line."


Reach Janese Heavin at (573) 815-1705 or jheavin@tribmail.com.


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