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Underestimating ADA Costs Individual School Districts and Education Funding Overall

Dr. Roger Dorson, DESE Assistant Commissioner, and Dr. Kari Monsees, MoASBO Legislative Committee chair, shared school funding reports and information at last week's MoASBO Spring Conference. 


Based on those presentations, Bruce Ellerman, Webster Groves COO/CFO, worked with MoASBO vice-president Patty Bedborough  to create these critical key messages:


  1. A significant amount of last year’s (2017/18’s) legislative appropriation to fund the Foundation Formula lapsed back into general state revenues after the final June 2018 formula payment was distributed to school districts.


  1. This could been avoided if the June 2018 payment ADA had not been understated.


  1. The most straightforward solution to this situation going forward is for districts to insure they have estimated their ADA accurately and communicated that estimate to DESE for formula payment purposes.  Otherwise, public school districts will continue to leave money on the table.


The deadline to provide or revise an estimated ADA with DESE is May 15.  


It is essential for all school district officials to understand:

  • How their estimated and payment ADA numbers directly affect the amount of usable and used legislative funding appropriation each year 
  • How underestimating ADA winds up costing each individual district and education funding overall.


Two other pieces of information that school officials need to take into consideration:


  1. The F&R threshold dropped substantially for 2018/19 compared to the prior year 2017/18—from 36.12% to          31.42%.  This means that WADA for 2018/19 could increase even in a district that has stable or even slightly declining enrollment compared to 2017/18.


  1. 2018/19 is the first year that most districts can include PK attendance in ADA for formula funding purposes.  Here again, for districts who will be claiming PK attendance for the first time in 2018/19, this means that WADA for 2018/19 could increase even in a district with otherwise stable or slightly declining K-12 enrollment.  


WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: Take a detailed look at your YTD ADA using actual YTD attendance, enrollment, 2018/19 F&R threshold and PK attendance status and then estimate accordingly.