Monday, May 09, 2016
Reiboldt: Education continues to be one of our top priorities
Last fall the University of Missouri saw its share of campus unrest and turmoil, as most are aware from the numerous news stories coming out about that institution. The situation at the University resulted in the resignation of both its chancellor and the system president. Members of Missouri’s General Assembly last week passed legislation that would create the University of Missouri System Review Commission, a group of eight members of the General Assembly to be appointed to this commission by the House Speaker and the Senate Pro Tem.
The responsibility of the University of Missouri System Review Commission is to review the institution’s system of rules and regulations, administrative structures, campus structures, auxiliary enterprise structures, degree programs, research activities, and diversity programs. Following their review, the commission will prepare a detailed report offering their recommendations for changes. The MU system will then be expected to adopt and implement those recommendations. Their actions in adopting (or refusing to adopt) the changes will then be the General Assembly’s main consideration in the appropriation process in January of 2017.
During the previous appropriations process, the University was cut $8.6 million. Fighting to maintain their current funding and possibly to receive a share of new money this year, the University threw its support behind the idea of a reviewing commission in exchange for restoring some of this year’s funding cuts. The University supports the General Assembly’s creation of a review commission—four individuals from the House and four from the Senate—and welcomes their recommendations.
Additionally, this past week the House completed the veto override on the School Funding Bill, which consists of SB 586 and SB 651. Two weeks ago the House and the Senate gave final approval to this legislation that seeks to reinstate a cap on the amount the state needs to provide each year to the foundation formula for the funding of Missouri’s public schools. Wednesday, Governor Nixon vetoed the School Funding Bill, but the Senate took immediate action and began the override process. The House completed their override Thursday, before adjourning for the week.
The School Funding Bill, which reinstates the cap, will take effect at the beginning of the new fiscal year in July of 2016. Growth of the funding formula will be limited; specifically, it will put a 5% cap in place to control the rate at which the formula can increase, but no school district will lose money under the cap. In fact, numerous districts are expected to see an increase in their funding. Currently, the funding formula (which was created in 2005) increases yearly but continues to fall short of the fully funded status. Previously, the fund had a 5% cap, meaning the growth of the state’s funding was limited to that amount, but the cap was removed by the legislature in 2010 because of projected income from gambling revenues. Those revenues did not materialize, though. By putting the cap back in place, the legislature has a realistic and attainable goal to fully fund the formula in the future.
This year the General Assembly approved increases of $70 million for the foundation formula for FY17. However, the formula still falls short of projections. With the cap back in place, this will allow for a reasonable rate of growth that will prevent unrealistic funding levels for the formula.
Senate Bill 620 addresses another point of interest from the educational realm. It makes changes in career and technical education by establishing a minimum requirement for a career and technical education certificate (CTE) that a student can earn in addition to his or her high school diploma. Furthermore, the bill will modify the make up of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council, a council that will now be appointed by the Commissioner of Education and not by the governor, as was previously done. The membership of the council will also be expanded by four—2 senators to be appointed by the President Pro Tem of the Senate and 2 representatives to be appointed by the Speaker of the House. These four will consist of one of each party from both the Senate and the House.
As evidenced, education continues to be one of the top priorities for Missouri’s General Assembly.