Divisiveness on what will happen with Missouri’s K-12 education were evident Thursday night, as Rolla’s four area state representatives held a forum to discuss pending issues.


Divisiveness on what will happen with Missouri’s K-12 education were evident Thursday night, as Rolla’s four area state representatives held a forum to discuss pending issues.

Sen. Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring), Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), Rep. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) and Rep. Don Wells (R-Cabool) were all on-hand at the Rolla school district’s administration building as they responded to concerns over what local districts consider to be the main issues.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any great news to give you,” said Smith after being asked about school funding.

The main issue that divided the legislators was whether to fully fund the foundation formula, Missouri’s method for funding basic education in public schools, or whether the formula will fall short of what is called for.

“I believe the formula will be fully funded,” Smith said when asked by moderator Dr. Jerry Giger, Rolla’s school superintendent. Smith’s sentiment was echoed by Brown, a fellow Republican.

Barnitz, however, disagreed with the representatives, stating that he believed the formula would not get the full funding in next year’s phase-in.

That assessment is in line with the budget Gov. Jay Nixon presented. Even though it raised formula spending by $18 million, it falls short of what was expected. Estimates have put the total lack anywhere from $80 million to more than $100 million — Giger estimated it was above $120 million.