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Callaway superintendents weigh in on veto

Top officials in local school districts agree HB 253 would be ‘devastating’ to budgets, could mean local tax hike for some

The Fulton School Board approved a resolution to support Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of HB 253 during its regular meeting Wednesday night.

The New Bloomfield School Board signed a letter to Rep. Jeanie Riddle with similar intent during their meeting Thursday night, and the issue was brought up during the North Callaway School Board meeting Thursday night as well.

A survey of all four of Callaway County’s public school superintendents yielded a unanimous opinion that if the taxation law goes into effect it would be “devastating” to school budgets across the state. The law, passed by the Missouri Legislature and subsequently vetoed by Nixon this spring, is slated for a ptoential veto override in September.

Fulton Public Schools Superintendent Jacque Cowherd explained to his school board Wednesday night that the foundation formula for funding public schools already is underfunded by approximately $620 million over the past four years. In a county where public schools depend on almost $17 million in state funding, any further decrease could cause big problems.

Cowherd said that as of July 1, the state already has withheld $156,614 from Fulton’s state funding, and if HB 253 is implemented, the district would face the loss of another $118,000.

“We’re at bare bones right now,” he said, noting that if the district faces further funding cuts, “we don’t have any other options than to go to a tax levy increase.”

“The average teacher salary for 2012 was $38,500,” Cowherd said. “We would have to do a 2.3 cent tax levy increase just to get one more teacher. The bottom line is, I’m asking you to consider a resolution in support of the governor’s veto.”

Board member Andy Bonderer expressed his endorsement of the resolution.

“As a school board, I don’t think we have any choice but to support this resolution,” Bonderer said, emphasizing that the support came as a school board.

The resolution passed unanimously.

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