Staff Editorial: Don’t let politicians hurt RBHS


art by Erin Barchet
[heading size=”14″]New state funding system is unfair to mid-sized schools[/heading] [dropcap style=”flat”]T[/dropcap]o no one’s surprise, politics in Missouri are once again hurting public schools.
Our fair state is changing the way it hands out money, which will in turn create a smaller budget for CPS.
This comes right after the news that CPS will also be losing a large, state-mandated grant because of fewer schools being accepted into their grant program.
Now, RBHS, and the schools around it in CPS, will all be facing the exact same problem: Budget cuts. Sadly, it has become an all too common problem for Columbia’s high schools, where state grant cuts and fiscal limitations are expected yearly. The state has to cut the budget, and somehow the public school system is now the scapegoat.
This time around, however, the state isn’t just giving the public school system less money; they’re changing the way the money is given out. The new system is meant to favor schools that have the largest amounts of students in programs like English Language Learners (ELL), mental disability support, and free and reduced lunch.
This might seem like a sincere step toward bettering the lives of students put into extremely tough situations, but didn’t the program before work just fine?
CPS and other public school systems used to receive money based upon the percentage of students who attended school each day. The new system does essentially the same job as the previous one, but has far more detrimental effects.
On average, the schools with the most students in the state also have the largest number of ELL and special-needs students. Changing the system has only allowed these schools to receive more money than smaller schools that could need the money even more, particularly for systems like the free and reduced lunch program.
There’s no doubt that ELL, special-education and free and reduced lunch programs are in need of more funding, but that support should not come at the expense of other schools.
CPS and school systems like it are slowly but surely becoming a rainy day fund for state lawmakers to take from whenever they feel like it.
It really doesn’t matter who Missouri legislators think they’re helping with this move because in the end it’s already a failed test. They’ve shown consistently that they don’t know what’s going on in Missouri public schools right now, so why is it that they’re allowed to continue making changes?
In a way, the system targets mid-sized school systems such as CPS by forcing already struggling programs into an even tougher financial situation.
The system works even worse for the smallest schools in the state that don’t have large groups of ELL and special needs students, but may need funding just as much or even more than the larger schools. Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that public schools saw changes to their money distribution, but this didn’t happen in Missouri.
Right before the state of Kansas went completely broke in 2013, it began cutting funding to their public schools by raising the number of students needed for schools to qualify for certain programs.
Kansas’ new way of divvying up the money oddly resembles Missouri’s new plan. In Kansas, the cuts resulted in a crushing loss of $51 million. These extreme cutbacks caused two Kansas school districts to end the school year a few weeks early because the school couldn’t afford to operate any longer that year. In those few weeks, those students missed out on precious learning and experience, and for what? Bureaucratic budget cuts, that’s what.
Whether Missouri’s resemblance to the early stages of Kansas’s undoing is just some odd coincidence, or actually the foretelling of something much worse coming Missouri’s way, it really serves no purpose other than to stop giving Missouri students the education they need, and no one will feel that more than RBHS, HHS, and BHS.
If programs such as ELL and special-education need more funding, increase allocation of funds to schools, but don’t take from already hurting institutions.
If Gov. Jay Nixon is willing to fight for the building of a billion dollar stadium for the Rams in St. Louis and not willing to fight for his state’s students, then he and the rest of the Missouri legislature have some serious thinking to do.
We have a struggling free and reduced lunch program because of budget cuts, so how is it that the system set up to support this integral piece of public schooling is backfiring and hurting free and reduced lunch students? Missouri politicians have somehow lost their minds, and seemingly lost millions of dollars too, because where are the millions promised by the Missouri education lottery?
If the Missouri Lottery numbers are correct, it earned state educators a little more than $260 million, a $10 million increase since 2014. So if the state is raising revenue through its ticket sales, where is that money moving? It’s obviously not going toward education.
The state legislature needs a push from its students to force change. No longer can they shove around small school districts in favor of saving a buck.
We need constituents to write letters and emails to members of the state board of education to remind them that small school districts aren’t going anywhere.
If you’ve never cared for politics before, or even for the great gift of education that we have in this country, then now is your time to be a part of the solution.
How do you think funding should be determined?
[vc_empty_space]Read more staff editorials on school, state and national issues.[vc_empty_space][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”10″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1454653877036-be33d93a-673f-9″ taxonomies=”8379″]