When we moved to Neosho nearly 30 years ago, one of our first impressions was that citizens are proud of the Neosho R-5 School District. “Neosho has good schools” was always included in the list as long-time residences extolled the advantages of this community.

When we moved to Neosho nearly 30 years ago, one of our first impressions was that citizens are proud of the Neosho R-5 School District.  “Neosho has good schools” was always included in the list as long-time residences extolled the advantages of this community.
We supported Neosho R-5 with our “yes” votes as the district has expanded with the remodeling of the high school and the construction of new buildings.  Neosho now has 10 buildings serving nearly 5000 Newton and McDonald County (Goodman) students.
There is no doubt that Neosho’s pride in our school system is well deserved.  We depend on local, state and federal funding sources as Neosho R-5 continually strives for excellence in education. 
Newton County residents must be ever vigilant in protecting our education dollars, as funding for education is threatened at many levels. While the Neosho R-5 student population has remained steady, revenue has decreased by 15% over the past four years (Public School Review).
We pay our national, state and local taxes with every expectation that Neosho R-5 will continue receiving the needed revenue to assure a quality education for our children.  However, the push to divert tax dollars from public to private schools has the potential to devastate rural school systems like Neosho. 
National School Choice Week, an event that was started in 2011, is designed to make funneling your tax dollars to private schools seem “normal”.  Our own Neosho City Council has helped normalize this way of thinking with a proclamation signed by Mayor Ben Baker.  It designated Jan. 21-27, 2018 as School Choice Week in Neosho (Neosho Daily News).
While a proclamation signed by Mayor Baker diverts no money from public to private schools, it does give support to a very real national, state and local movement that threatens funding for Neosho R-5 School District.
Funding for Neosho R-5 School District is threatened by school voucher schemes at the national level.  In May, 2017 Trump’s budget proposal slashed the federal investment in public education programs by 13.6 percent. While Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ introduced an ambitious $20 billion initiative to expand private school vouchers nationwide (nea Today, Fall 2017).
Funding for Neosho R-5 School district is threatened by voucher schemes at the state level.  The 2018 session has seen continued interest in tax-credit schemes to move public money to private schools.  This creates publicly financed tax credits for ‘donations’ to funds that can be used for private school expenses (Something Better, Spring 2018).  Missouri senate bill 613 and house bill 2188 are similar bills to create this type of tax credit scheme.
Funding for Neosho R-5 School District is threatened by expanding charter schools state wide with HB2247. As it currently stands, this bill could create public charter schools paid for with your tax dollars that are not accountable to locally elected school boards, but run as individual private school without control by the local community.
Funding for Neosho R-5 is threatened from Gov. Greiten’s education budget cuts.  Greiten’s budget is $48 million short of what is considered full funding under state law (US News and World Report, 01/18).  This comes after the Missouri legislature changed the law last year to reduce the amount needed for full funding.
Providing quality education for our children is a primary responsibility of every community.  We elect local, state and national officials to aide us in fulfilling this responsibility.  Yet we find funding for Neosho R-5 threatened by our elected officials.  We have the power to stop the threats to our children’s education with our votes.  During the 2018 election season, find out which candidates support PUBLIC education and vote for them!

Susanna Smith writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.