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DESE moves on foundation formula without legislature’s approval

Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education made a move last week to fix the Foundation Formula that it apparently felt was necessary. However, some members of the General Assembly might feel otherwise.

The Foundation Formula is a complicated formula created by the General Assembly in 2005 in an attempt to ensure all districts receive an adequate amount of state funding. When the Formula was written, the General Assembly failed to provide direction on how DESE should distribute these funds during budget shortfalls. Because of this oversight, DESE may not to have the authority to distribute these losses.

DESE’s apparent concern is that if the losses are not distributed there will be districts that stand to see a huge increase in funding while other districts will see huge losses in funding. As a result of this concern, DESE made the decision last week to go ahead and distribute the losses without additional action by the General Assembly. You can read more about the action the department is taking with the Formula here, here, and here.

While it is difficult to say what fallout, if any, there will be from DESE’s decision, what we do know is that several members of the General Assembly are interested in a complete re-write of the Formula. For this reason the two proposed “Formula fixes” didn’t make it out of either Chamber during the 2012 Legislative Session.

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) did an excellent job detailing the cause of an potential fallout from DESE’s decision to act on the Formula on his website (read it here). As he concludes, it is not clear exactly what, if anything will happen now, but lawsuits certainly appear to be a possibility.

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