April 26, 2021

Published: April 26, 2021
Superintendent Reports

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Budget Update (HB 2)

The House passed their version of the FY 2022 budget several weeks ago. Their version was then sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate Appropriations Committee spent last week making changes to the House’s version. The Appropriations Committee finalized their modifications to the House’s version of the budget last Friday and voted the budget bills out of Committee. The budget will now head to the Senate floor for debate and “perfection.” It is expected for debate to occur and for the budget to be voted out of the Senate by Thursday of this week. The bill will then head to “conference” where members from both chambers will reconcile any differences.

Regarding HB 2, the budget bill that pertains to K-12 education, the Appropriations Committee largely maintained what the House had voted out of their chamber. However, there were a few modifications. Here are a few of the highlights contained within the Committee’s version of the FY 2022 budget for HB 2:

1) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that $8.5 million in new money be added to ensure full funding of the K-12 funding formula at a total of $3.56 billion;

2) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that $8.4 million in new money be added for early childhood special education; 

3) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that $4.3 million be added to develop a comprehensive literacy program using federal grant funds; 

4) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that $13 million be added for the A+ Schools Scholarship Program; 

5) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that a ceiling of $958.4 million may be collected for Prop C; 

6) The Appropriations Committee modified the House’s position regarding school transportation. The House had appropriated $96.4 million in their version of the budget, but the Appropriations Committee added an additional $20 million bringing the total to $116.4 million; 

7) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position that $3 million be added for the “Rural Advising Program.” The intent of the program is to recruit and place full-time post-secondary advisors in up to thirty rural high schools across Missouri; 

8) The Appropriations Committee modified the House’s position regarding money for a line item entitled “school improvement.” In the House’s version, the House added $2 million for this line item. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee reduced that figure to $500,000. Details regarding this $500,000 appropriation are vague; however, it is believed the money is for an entity called The Opportunity Trust, a school reform entity from St. Louis; 

9) The Appropriations Committee modified the House’s position regarding money for a line item that was originally intended for charter schools. Indeed, in the House’s version, they appropriated $5 million in deferred maintenance or repair solely for charter schools. However, the Appropriations Committee modified the eligibility of the deferred maintenance and allowed for  career and technical education centers to also seek money from the $5 million fund; 

10) The Appropriations Committee modified the House’s position regarding money designated for “The School Turnaround Act.” The House had appropriated $3.25 million for the program while the Appropriations Committee zeroed the fund. The School Turnaround Act passed in 2019 and allows private companies/entities to work with low-performing school buildings at the state’s expense; 

11) The Appropriations Committee maintained the House’s position regarding harmful language centering on receipt of ESSER I Funds. This language holds that local educational agencies that adopt, in response to COVID-19, a distanced or blended onsite and distanced pattern of instruction constituting less than 45% of annual attendance hours taking place in person, shall have their designated total allocation under this section reduced by 10%; and 

12) The Appropriations Committee removed language that the House had inserted regarding receipt of GEER II Funds. In the House’s version of HB 2, they inserted a microgrant program for this line item which acted as a type of voucher program.

In all, HB 2 is shaping up to be fairly disappointing. Indeed, while the Appropriations Committee improved the bill by removing the voucher program language, cutting the funding designated for The Opportunity Trust to $500,000 from $2 million, allowing for career and technical education centers to apply for the $5 million maintenance fund, and increasing the transportation categorical by $20 million, I cannot help but note that we are still significantly underfunded for school transportation and that we will see very little in the way of new state money for the foundation formula.

More communication will be provided regarding the budget as it makes its way through the legislative process.