Good morning Wildcat nation!

Good morning Wildcat nation! Hopefully each of you is having a good week this week and are enjoying the beautiful weather we are having. This is one of my favorite times of the year, the changing of the leaves, the nip in the air, and the promise of a beautiful fall. It's hard to believe we are nearing the end of the first quarter of school already. There are many great things going on in buildings across the district and I would like to invite you as the community to find a way to be involved.

As I thought about what to share this week I kept coming back to school funding and the state of school funding in Missouri. Schools are funded at the state level through a mechanism called the foundation formula which takes the money allocated to public schools and divides it out to the 520 school districts. Factors that are taken into account for consideration are the cost of living, students with higher needs, free/reduced lunch population, special education students, and students with limited English proficiencies. The current foundation formula was adopted in 2005, implemented in 2006, and was to be infused over a period of seven years. The seven years have now lapsed and school districts are still not funded at 100 percent. The reason for having the formula is so sufficient funds are provided that will allow all school districts in Missouri to have what's adequate or necessary to meet the needs of educating each student.

Each year the department of elementary and secondary education recommends to the state board of education that the request be made to the legislature that education be fully funded. Each year the state board makes the recommendation and each year it doesn't occur. Part of this is that Missouri is still feeling the results of the latest recession; the state is actually operating at the same level of funding that was available in 2008. There are also many other programs that are all trying to get a bigger piece of the same pie and there is only so much pie to go around. This past session the governor and legislature added $66 million to education funding which funded education at its highest level ever, but is still well below the commitment that was made with the establishment of the formula. For the Neosho R-5 School District this means that this year alone we are underfunded by approximately $1.9 million because the formula is only being funded at 92 percent

The reason I feel this important enough to share is because I want the community to see that we are doing great things as a school district even though we are underfunded. This underfunding has been occurring since 2006 which would bring the total to between $10-$11 million over the last seven years. So, what eventually happens is that some of the funding that is the state's responsibility gets shifted to the local responsibility in order for districts to function and do the best they can for the students they serve. I feel that many times this is information that patrons don't receive and want to make sure as we move ahead that I share information like this so we as a community can be informed. Have a great week!

Dan Decker is superintendent of the Neosho R-5 Board of Education.