Efforts to fix Missouri's School aid Formula, Transfers Appear Knotted- Again

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, March 5, 2012

Public school leaders across the state have implored the Missouri Legislature to fix a knotty student transfer law and an underfunded school aid formula.

They've warned that open-ended transfers could result in overcrowded suburban classrooms and bankrupt city schools. They've predicted that a quirk in the aid formula could force some small rural schools to close.

But for the second year in a row, legislators appear unlikely to come to grips with either problem. Why? House Republican leaders have tied both issues to a far-reaching school choice agenda.

Its cornerstone is a subsidized scholarship program to help students in unaccredited districts pay for private or parochial schools. Supporters say the scholarships would provide options for impoverished children.

But using tax credits for private tuition draws stiff resistance from many rural Republican lawmakers, who view the scholarships as siphoning $40 million away from public schools.

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