Education funding | St. Louis Public Radio

Education funding

A child grabs his backpack on his first day of preschool at the Affton Early Childhood Center on Aug. 13, 2019.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a swelling momentum to increase the number of children under the age of 5 receiving free early childhood education in the St. Louis region.

State funding for preschool remains minimal, but dollars are slowly growing and institutions are getting creative in ways to soak up more of those limited funds.

Children wait in line to grab their backpacks and find their classrooms during the first day of school at the Affton preschool center.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A community organizing group wants St. Louis and St. Louis County to spend more money on early childhood education.

In a report released Thursday, WEPOWER proposed a ballot initiative in November that would allow St. Louis County voters to consider a half-cent sales tax increase to expand access to pre-K. The group's members said that would raise about $84 million a year.

The report also urges St. Louis officials to designate 2% of the city's general fund budget — about $22 million a year —  to early childhood education.

Children draw at City Garden Montessori school. The school plans to increase enrollment from 276 students to 2,500 over 10 years.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Biome School, a small, independent public charter school in St. Louis, has to rely on donations for a quarter of its funding to educate 178 students. 

“We're certainly not crying foul from the standpoint that we knew the business model was broken when we launched the charter school,” said Bill Kent, school president and CEO.

Rachel Shriver is set to graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City next year but she’s already thinking about how her two kids are going to pay for college a decade from now. 

She’s had a tough path to this point: She had her first kid when she was young and most of her family never made it to college. “I'm just hoping to have a better life with my kids … that’s the whole reason I’m in school,” Shriver said.

Erica Williams is the founder and executive director of A Red Circle; David Dwight is the lead strategy catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson; and Colin Gordon is the author of "Citizen Brown."

In 2008, with his book “Mapping Decline,” history professor Colin Gordon brought context to the issues of vacant houses, boarded-up storefronts and abandoned factories in the St. Louis region.

Gordon’s new book, "Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs," digs into how municipal boundaries and school district lines were drawn to exclude and how local policies and services were weaponized to maintain civic separation.

Cast a Line | Flickr

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr

Missouri is set to increase the amount it spends on public preschool, but education officials say even if the funds are put in the next budget, the small increase will have only a marginal impact.

By hitting a benchmark for education funding during last year’s budget process, state lawmakers set off a provision that requires more funding for pre-K in the following fiscal year.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to Republican supporters in East Alton on April 12, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois lawmakers will need to return for a second special session if they don't send Gov. Bruce Rauner a bill that revamps the K-12 school funding formula by noon Monday.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 9 p.m. April 26 with budget moving forward — Missouri’s $27.8 billion budget for next fiscal year passed the Senate on Wednesday night, 9 days before the constitutional deadline.

It’s back in the hands of the state House, and both chambers have to appoint negotiators to hammer out a final version. The budget must be to Greitens by 6 p.m. May 5 or risk needing a special session.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 7, 2011 - A group of Missouri state senators agreed today to drop their filibuster of a bill that authorizes the state to accept and distribute $105 million in federal stimulus money earmarked for the extension of unemployment benefits.

But in exchange, Senate Republican leaders agreed to seek $250 million in cuts in other federal stimulus spending.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 4, 2011 - The filibuster now taking place in the Missouri Senate could hurt the pocketbooks of St. Louis area school districts, which stand to gain a large chunk of the $189 million in federal grant money that some Republican legislators want to refuse.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2011 - The state of Missouri's income numbers are continuing to improve -- enough that Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he's directing $10 million more to public schools to help pay for student transportation costs.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said the money is in addition to $7.5 million in transportation funds that Nixon released last month. The $17.5 million in total represents almost a quarter of the $70 million that the governor initially had withheld.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 30, 2010 - Lawmakers going to Jefferson City next year will face two big issues in education: Where should students attend class and how will their schools be funded?

The second issue isn't new, of course. As Missouri's financial woes have deepened, state officials say they have tried to spare education as much as possible. But the school foundation formula remains underfunded, and education officials have been warned that they are about to face another tough economics lesson as budget numbers are put together for coming years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2009 - Good Friday turned out to be good news for many public school districts across Missouri because it was the day the state announced that schools would get roughly $140 million in extra Title 1 money for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The bad news will come later for some cash-strapped districts as they slowly realize the stimulus program offers no chance of a quick fix for their budget problems.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 6, 2009 - Federal stimulus dollars for education are supposed to be used in part to plug holes in state funding for basic K-12 and higher education programs. Unclear is whether Missouri can simply cut spending for education programs it already had committed to fund, then use stimulus dollars to cover the shortfall.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 22, 2008 - Missouri's ballot has only one Proposition A on Nov. 4, but given the heavy campaigning, voters could be forgiven if they think there are two.

Clarion Ledger | Jackson, MS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon June 2 2008: Now that this year's legislative sesson is over and the campaigns are in full swing for the primary, Missourians ought to look at what's needed and what's been done on several important issues. Among the most of important of these is education funding.