Schools not surprised by Nixon's education cuts

Any school board paying the least bit of attention was not really surprised by what Gov. Jay Nixon did this week with proposed for school funding in Missouri.

Even so, the impact of a bare bones funding increase is no less painful simply for being expected.

In his speech to lawmakers Wednesday, the Nixon put the best face he could on the situation.

"Our children are precious, Nixon said. Their education is too important. So, even in these difficult times, I am recommending increased funding, at a record level, for our K-12 classrooms.

The governor's budget plan increases public school spending by just $18 million less than a fifth of the 106 million needed to fully fund the formula approved by lawmakers in 2005.

"Until the revenue picture changes, most folks in government understand that getting the job done with newer resources is a given, Nixon said.

Large school districts with substantial local tax bases have the least to lose. For example, Jefferson City gets only a fifth of its $80 million budget from the state's foundation formula.

"The district's in very good financial condition, Jefferson City Schools Superintendent BRIAN MITCHELL said. We've got strong fund balances that will help us weather a little bit of it. So I think until we know exactly how significant any reductions might be, it's hard for us to determine where reductions might come from.

Small districts will feel it worse. New Bloomfield gets 70 percent of its $10 million budget from the state and the board here must trim between $300,000 and $400,000. Cuts to maintenance, supplies, and extra-curriculars won't do much. Most of the money is in personnel and a teaching staff of 70 might have to become a staff of 65 maybe fewer.

"Through retirements, through reassignments, through perhaps open positions that don't go filled," New Bloomfield Superintendent Chris Small said. "Class sizes are gonna have to go up. It's just a given.

Dr. Small hopes to know within a month exactly how much money the district will have to make up.