Bar graph

If you imagine that funding public schools in Missouri is a simple matter of assigning a set amount of money per student and sending that money to school districts according to how many students they serve, then you are (1) probably our kind of person, but (2) sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, it's complicated.

How complicated? Consider the following facts about the current funding formula:

  • Students with disabilities may generate extra revenue for their school districts to reflect the additional expense their education requires—or then again, they may not.
  • The property values in a school district used in the calculation to determine state aid may be current—or they may be from 15 years ago.
  • If the public school you attend happens to be a public charter school, your school won't receive the same funding as other schools for its building and facilities, and it will have to pay 1.5 percent of its state and local funding as an "administrative fee."

This paper explains how some of these problems came about, and it also proposes some reforms that would promote fairness, transparency, and local autonomy in our public education system.

To read the entire report, click on the link below.


About the Author

Aaron Smith

Aaron Garth Smith is director of education reform at the Reason Foundation.

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.