Missouri legislation brings up school funding concerns - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Missouri legislation brings up school funding concerns

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Public schools have been keeping an eye on certain bills. Public schools have been keeping an eye on certain bills.
Dent said funding for public schools is crucial. Dent said funding for public schools is crucial.
Dent said technology in the classroom has become an important part of schooling. Dent said technology in the classroom has become an important part of schooling.
Funding of public schools could be impacted. Funding of public schools could be impacted.
A push for school choice is happening in Missouri. A push for school choice is happening in Missouri.
PALMYRA, Mo. (WGEM) -

With both charter school expansion and vouchers a possibility in this Missouri legislative session, school districts like Palmyra R-1 are keeping a close eye on Jefferson City.

James Dent teaches science at Palmyra High School. He said on Tuesday that in his ten years of teaching, he's seen the demand for technology grow, and he realizes how important funding for public schools is.

"We're trying to keep up with 21st century skill sets, and technology is a big piece of that." Dent said. "So if we don't have funding, the technology piece is not going to be there."

However, Superintendent Kirt Malone said some of that funding could be in jeopardy. Legislation like House Bill 1639 would establish empowerment scholarships, which serve as tax credits for families to use towards their children's education.

"That student could use that tax credit money to go to a private school, or to a home school." Superintendent Kirt Malone said.

Malone added that the current outlook on state funding remains rather unclear, which makes creating a budget challenging.

"We have to be conservative with our budget forecasts, and the problem is our budgets are due before the state budget is ever finalized." Malone said.

Another topic currently being discussed in Jefferson City includes a possible expansion of charter schools by way of Senate Bill 618. That could also impact the amount of funding Malone's district receives.

"There could be charter schools in rural areas, depending on what kind of legislation is passed." Malone said. "Our concern with charter schools is that they are not held to the same accountability as public schools."

Teachers like Dent also said that they hope their funding isn't impacted. Referring to the recent strides in technology in the classroom.
 
"If we started losing funding, of course things might go downhill." Dent said. "And so if we're being sabotaged by that, that doesn't seem right to me."

We also reached out to local lawmakers for their stances on the legislation. Representatives Jim Hansen (R) and Craig Redmon (R) said they had yet to look at House Bill 1639, they were planning to do so later this week. Representative Lindell Shumake (R)  said he supported the bill, and was a supporter of school choice.

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