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District funding derives from attendance, other factors

The Columbia Public Schools’ (CPS) district final budget document, published and approved by the Columbia Board of Education June 11, 2018, outlines the budget for CPS for this school year.
The report summarizes how CPS receives funding, where certain funding goes into, salary information and other CPS spending descriptions.

This money comes from three tiers of taxes: local, state and federal. CPS currently receives 65 percent from local taxes, 29 percent from state taxes and six percent from federal taxes.

Local tax money comes from many different sources throughout the community, including sales tax, delinquent taxes and taxation of real and personal property within the district.

Despite state taxes not filling a largest percentage of funding, calculating the amount of funding coming from the state is the most difficult, Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said.

“The formula we use to calculate the basic state aid is very complex and the factors that influence the funding vary widely between districts,” Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE) coordinator David Tramel said. “I can tell you that last year Columbia received $56,535,235 in basic state aid.”

One component of the record describes how Missouri public schools receive state funding based on a biannually recalculated state foundation formula.

There are four parts to this equation: Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA), State Adequacy Target (SAT), Dollar Value Modifier (DVM) and Local Effort. While CPS has little influence on DVM and Local Effort, WADA and SAT are two components of the formula that CPS has more control over.

The state weighs a district’s average daily attendance. For students who attend all hours of school possible, the state will fund them as one student. The district receives $6,300 for each student, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE) coordinator David Tramel said.

The state applies an additional multiplier, which began in the 2016-17 school year, to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, Individualized Education Plans or are under the category of English Language Proficient.

“Note that this year’s attendance won’t count with regard to formula calculations until next school year,” CPS Communications Director Michelle Baumstark said. “The district’s annual performance report also includes an attendance component and a goal set by the state of Missouri.”

MDESE has strict attendance hour reportings that they require schools to follow and document. The guidelines prohibit schools from counting hours for students if they are not in school, do not allow attendance recovery and outlines how to count attendance for non-traditional courses, such as online classes and special cases. This is why RBHS asks students to check in and out of the front office whenever they enter or exit the school during official class hours.

Still, MDESE does not accept zero hour courses as reporting hours for state aid. This is because zero hour is not a part of the district’s calendar hours in session.

“Zero hour is an option made available to CPS students who want to get an early start to their day, need schedule flexibility, or need to be able to take additional credit hours,” Baumstark said. “It’s a benefit to our student population to make it an available option. It’s not something we added because of [Average Daily Attendance], the foundation formula, or more money. In fact, the district does not receive any reimbursement for zero hour.”

The district does not pay teachers differently for teaching zero hour courses. Teachers fall into categories of compensation based off their status such as their degree of education and the number of years they’ve worked for the district.

“Teachers are paid on a salary schedule that is based on a set number of days. This is a negotiated contract,” Baumstark said. “They aren’t paid differently based on a teacher teaching a zero hour or not. They are paid based on employment status, position, number of contracted days, years of experience and degree.”
While student attendance matters, Baumstark said the district doesn’t receive more state funding for higher grading teachers or teaching attendance.

Another part of the CPS budget criteria that students specifically can influence is through the State Adequacy Target (SAT), which is a state standard. CPS must follow guidelines deriving from the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5) and earn at least 70 percent of points possible to receive accreditation from the state. Areas graded include academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rate.

Standardized tests are one way to earn points for funding. Examples of these exams include Missouri Assessment Program (MAP), End of Course assessment (EOC), American College Testing (ACT), Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), STAR Reading and STAR Math. The state also looks at teacher success indicators, such as participation in Equity Training, Executive Functioning/Poverty training and Restorative practices, which measure interpersonal skills and positive mindsets.

Senior Polina Kopeikin sees both the positives and negatives of grading students on their performances on tests. She worries schools may not receive important funding if scores suddenly drop, but also believes giving teachers a goal standard helps with classroom instruction.

“It motivates teachers to teach their students better with actual applied topics,” Kopeikin said. “There is a downside to this, however, that being that these standardized tests only test specific knowledge of students, not overall broad knowledge.”

While part of the state budget is determined by attendance and performance, MDESE alots determines a district’s state funding by calculating the Dollar Value Modifier (DVM) and Local Effort as well as other factors of student attendance and performance.

Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) describes DVM as “a factor adjusts funding based on the value of a dollar in a specific area. It will increase funding in areas where the cost of living is especially high, but will not take money away from districts with lower costs of living.” The state calculates this value by comparing the average salary in the area with the state median, under the assumption that higher incomes will have proportionally higher costs of living.

Additionally, Local Effort, CEAM reports, is a measure of how much money a district receives from local taxes and other sources, and from that amount, the state will fill a portion of the Local Effort based on other formulas.

MDESE tries to cover all financial aid that a district desires, but in the end, cannot cover every cost the district would like, Baumstark said.

“There are always needs and things the district can’t do because of lack of funding,” Baumstark said. “For example, the district expends approximately $12 million on transportation and only receives approximately $2 million in reimbursement of the state.”

Sophomore Allie Bell, who is a member of show choir, a group that constantly raises money through events and fundraisers, knows what it feels like to wish for more secure funding.

“If we had more funding it would help to push us to the next level competitively,” Bell said. “We would have more funding for costumes to make the show even more visually appealing and accurate. We would also have the ability to travel more for competition.”

Luckily for CPS, the district does not have to fundraise, however, there are still monetary concerns, Baumstark said.

“The foundation formula is also underfunded,” Baumstark said. “Our teachers would likely say that if there is additional funds that are made available that funds should be used to enhance teacher salaries. Without those funds, we can’t have much of a conversation about it.”

To keep track and report progress on goals, CPS uses a scorecard posted for the public to look at on its website, Baumstark said. Categories on the website include academic progress, third grade reading levels, graduation goals and perceptual data.

“The scorecard on our website includes both state and local measures of success. Not every category relates directly to school funding,” Baumstark said. “It does equate to MSIP, APR and accreditation though.”

What do you think of the current funding? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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2 comments

Sarah December 14, 2018 at 8:58 pm

This was a very interesting read! We come to school every day, yet we never really think about how this is possible. The part about attendance was particularly interesting to me.

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Amira R McKee December 14, 2018 at 3:45 pm

It’s interesting to read about how CPS finances its programs. I hadn’t thought very deeply about it previously, and this article made me more cognizant of the work and planning that goes into our school systems budget. Great story!

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