The calendar indicated that Spring officially started on March 20. It appeared the weather was going to cooperate with the calendar a couple weeks ago, but the past few chilly days caused a slight delay. A thorough review of the extended forecast indicates there are no intense or prolonged cold spells or any real prospect of accumulating snow, so I would like to officially declare that our cold, dark season of winter is over in St. James! With winter now behind us, we can look forward to the many things that make Spring so great. I look forward to the warming temperatures, sunshine, flowering trees, working outside, the beginning of a new baseball season, and the promise of what can be for the future. The arrival of Spring represents new challenges and the many possibilities of promise and growth in our lives.
One of our biggest challenges at St. James R-I Schools is the uncertainties of the state budget and our dependence on that funding. Presently, half of our funding comes from the state. Because of this, it is important for us to be cognizant of the state budget so we can appropriately prepare our future budgets. Governor Parson and Speaker Haahr recently indicated it is their goal to achieve full funding of public education. Last week, the Missouri House of Representatives finalized its version of the state budget for fiscal year 2020. The House proposed full funding for the foundation formula by adding approximately $61.4 million in new money. All public school finance leaders are hopeful this proposal comes to fruition. Governor Parson also recommended a $10 million increase to school transportation for next year. The House is expected to cut the governor’s recommendation in half. State law provides that school transportation should be funded at 75% of the cost of transporting students, but is currently funded at only 18%. This shortfall in state transportation dollars impacts districts differently, depending on population and geography. I will continue to be in contact with the legislators who represent us about how the lack of funding for transportation impacts St. James R-I Schools. All of the proposed numbers are subject to change as the Senate Appropriations Committee will now have an opportunity to modify the budget. It is my hope that our legislators will continue to support public schools and as Spring unfolds, with it will bring more clarity to our budget plans.
Spring will also bring much excitement as we approach the close of another school year. There will be many ceremonies, sporting events, student activities, and celebrations. I look forward to watching the graduation of an excellent group of 112 seniors on May 19! So, get out in the sunshine, plant a few trees, support our students in all of their activities, and take advantage of every beautiful spring-like day we are granted!