Garner shares Parson’s school funding expectations

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 6/3/20

Gasconade County R-2 Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said Tuesday afternoon after participating in a conference call between himself, superintendents across Missouri, and  Gov. Mike Parson, that …

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Garner shares Parson’s school funding expectations

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Gasconade County R-2 Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said Tuesday afternoon after participating in a conference call between himself, superintendents across Missouri, and  Gov. Mike Parson, that the information was “the same old thing.”

“Really what he told us was mostly what we already knew,” Garner said. “Two things he said that I didn’t know was that 10,000 people have been put back to work at the state and that was positive, even though it doesn’t come near to those who have lost their jobs. It is the only positive thing I have heard.”

The 25-minute conference call left little else to be excited about. Parson revealed that he doesn’t think the latest $209-million-dollar withhold will be the last.

“He thinks we will see another withholding July 1,” Garner said. “He doesn’t think this is the bottom of our holds.”

Parson said he would like to do one large withholding so superintendents may plan on the absent funds in the future rather than withholding more each month.

“He predicted a rebound in the economy in the state of Missouri in July and having a stronger fourth quarter. Although he admitted it doesn’t help school districts who need to finalize budgets by June 30,” Garner said.

Superintendents also asked about social distancing requirements and if they would expire soon.

“His response was ‘I hope so, but I don’t know.’”

Withholdings so far have included a little bit from transportation and Classroom Trust in May and in June the Foundation Formula funds and more withholdings from transportation.

“He said instead of withholding a little each month, he would like to withhold all at the beginning,” Garner said. “His hope would be if economy rebounds, they could backfill what was withheld later in the school year. But that is a lot of hopes and wishes at this point.”

Higher education representatives also participated in the call.

“It was a conference call other than it wasn’t a two-way communication,” Garner said. “Just him on the phone and we submit questions through email.”

Parson told education representatives that he is hoping to see some relief from the federal side, but made no guarantees. As for Garner, he doesn’t plan to speculate on the funds the district will lose just yet.

“I have no idea on numbers. I would like to hear from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) about what they indicate it is going to be.”

DESE should be able to give districts an estimate of their student adequacy target (SAT) or the amount of funds the state reimburses per student, in the near future. Garner said he can guesstimate the numbers but would rather wait.

“When DESE tells us what the SAT will be lowered to — it was supposed to be $6,375  last month and was lowered to $6,310 because we received no Classroom Trust funds,” Garner said. “That is gaining money now since there was no payment last month.”

Garner said the $123 million that is expected to be pulled is too large a number for him to disseminate.

“We lived through this several years ago, it’s called a proration factor — meaning they approve the SAT but the state says ‘we don’t have enough to fund that full amount and pro-rate it down to 95 percent or whatever of that full amount,” Garner said. “I hope we don’t’ see a rebound in viruses and able to back fill in fourth quarter.”

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