David Sater

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The new school year is upon us, and students, teachers and administrators all over the 29th District are gearing up for another successful year in the classroom.

The state of Missouri has been the center of some very important education news recently. With significant funding increases for elementary and secondary and higher education and with Missouri serving as the jumping off point for innovation campuses, education is in the spotlight.

One job the General Assembly is constitutionally required to perform each year is to pass a fiscally responsible budget for the state of Missouri. A modest increase in state revenues this year allowed the General Assembly to allot an additional $66 million for the K-12 foundation formula.

For Fiscal Year 2014, the Legislature allotted $5.5 billion for elementary and secondary education, up from the FY 2013 budget of $5.36 billion and a decent jump of $5.29 billion in FY 2012.

Our state constitution requires that at least 25 percent of state revenue go to public education. The Republican-led Missouri Legislature is dedicating more than 38 percent of state revenue to education. This highlights our commitment to funding education and providing today's students with the tools they need to compete in a 21st century job market.

The Show-Me State's public elementary and secondary education institutions are largely funded through what is called the foundation formula. This complex formula provides the basis for how money is divided among K-12 public schools based on a number of factors: student attendance; local property tax rates; number of disadvantaged or special needs; and if the district provides summer school, among others. If student attendance drops below a certain rate, or the number of school days dips below a specific number, all state funds can be withheld from that district.

With the formula, there is always concern regarding the fairness of money distribution, and our goal is to always ensure the factors that determine funds are made in an equitable manner. My interest is, and will continue to be, ensuring there is fair and adequate funding for our schools in the 29th District.

Missouri is also beginning work on the Innovation Education Campus initiative. Passed as part of Senate Bill 381 during the recent legislative session, innovation campuses will create partnerships between local school districts and higher education institutions, in conjunction with local technology-based businesses creating accelerated programs. Some areas in the state have already implemented this concept, proving that this initiative really works.
The basic idea of an innovation education campus is that high school students interested in a future in the world of high-tech jobs will have the chance to take classes geared toward that goal. By taking college credit courses and participating in internships while still in high school, the time it would take to obtain a college degree will be reduced from a typical eight years to six, and eliminate two years of college debt.
With two parents who were school teachers and a product of a public school education, I know the tremendous benefit of a quality education. A solid, well-established education is the foundation of our future, and our goal should be to bring every Missouri child to his or her greatest potential. Continuing to fight for adequate funding and better defining factors for administering education funding will help ensure a brighter tomorrow for our children.
As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480;david.sater@senate.mo.gov; or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101.