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Public education in Missouri

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K-12 Education in Missouri
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Education facts
State Superintendent: Chris Nicastro
Number of students: 916,584[1]
Number of teachers: 66,252
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:13.8
Number of school districts: 572
Number of schools: 2,408
Graduation rate: 86%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $9,410[3]
See also
Missouri Department of EducationList of school districts in MissouriMissouriSchool boards portal
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Education policy project
Public education in the United States
Public education in Missouri
Glossary of education terms
Note: The statistics on this page are mainly from government sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. Figures given are the most recent as of June 2014, with school years noted in the text or footnotes.
The Missouri public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards and superintendents. In 2012 Missouri had 916,584 students enrolled in a total of 2,408 schools in 572 school districts. There were 66,252 teachers in the public schools, or roughly one teacher for every 14 students, compared to the national average of 1:16. There is roughly one administrator for every 294 students, compared to the national average of one administrator for every 295 students.[4] On average Missouri spent $9,410 per pupil in 2011, which ranks it 31st highest in the nation. The state's graduation rate was 86 percent in 2012.[5]

State agencies

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State Education Departments

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See also
Missouri Commissioner of Education
List of school districts in Missouri
Public education in Missouri
School board elections portal
The mission statement of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reads:[6]
The mission of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is to guarantee the superior preparation and performance of every child in school and in life.[7]

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is led by the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner of Education is appointed by the Missouri State Board of Education. The current officeholder is Chris Nicastro.[8]

The State Board of Education is responsible generally for "the supervision of instruction in the public schools." The board is composed of eight members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The composition of the board must meet the following requirements:[9]

  • No more than four board members may belong to the same political party
  • No more than one member may reside within the same county or congressional district

Board members are appointed to eight-year terms.[9]

Common Core

Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards on June 15, 2010. Full implementation is scheduled to be achieved in the 2014-2015 academic year. Under pressure from opponents to Common Core, however, the Missouri Legislature passed House Bill 1490, which was signed by Governor Jay Nixon on July 14, 2014. This bill will replace the Common Core standards by the 2016-2017 school year with new state standards, to be developed with recommendations from educators and parents in the state.[10][11][12]

Regional comparison

See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states

The following chart shows how Missouri compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.

Regional comparison
State Schools Districts Students Teachers Teacher/pupil ratio Administrator/pupil ratio Per pupil spending
Missouri 2,408 572 916,584 66,252 1:13.8 1:294.1 $9,410
Arkansas 1,108 289 483,114 33,983 1:14.2 1:271.3 $9,353
Illinois 4,336 1,075 2,083,097 131,777 1:15.8 1:283 $10,774
Iowa 1,411 361 495,870 34,658 1:14.3 1:277.2 $9,807
United States 98,328 17,992 49,521,669 3,103,263 1:16 1:295.2 $10,994
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.

National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013


See also: Demographic information for all students in all 50 states

The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Missouri as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.[13]

Demographic information for Missouri's K-12 public school system
Ethnicity Students State Percentage United States Percentage**
American Indian 4,182 0.46% 1.10%
Asian 17,267 1.88% 4.68%
African American 153,711 16.77% 15.68%
Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students 1,470 0.16% 0.42%
Hispanic 44,581 4.86% 24.37%
White 680,249 74.22% 51.21%
Two or more 15,124 1.65% 2.54%
**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.

Enrollments by region type

See also: Student distribution by region type in the U.S.

A plurality of students in Missouri attend rural schools. Approximately 53 percent of the state's students attend rural or town schools, compared to approximately 47 percent who attend city or suburban schools.

Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)
State City schools Suburban schools Town schools Rural schools
Missouri 17.4% 29.9% 19.2% 33.5%
Arkansas 25.8% 9.6% 20.3% 44.3%
Illinois 31.3% 43.3% 10.3% 15.1%
Iowa 26.4% 8.2% 25.4% 40.1%
U.S. average 28.9% 34% 11.6% 25.4%
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)

Academic performance

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Education policy terms
Academic bankruptcyAcademic EarthAcademic performanceAdaptive softwareBlended learningCarnegie unitCharter schoolsCommon CoreDropout rateDual enrollmentEnglish Language LearnersFree or reduced-price lunchGlobal competence learningHomeschoolingImmersion learningKhan AcademyLocal education agencyMagnet schoolsNAEPOnline learningParent trigger lawsProgressive educationRegulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation RateSchool choiceSchool vouchersTeacher merit payVirtual charter schools
See also

NAEP scores

See also: NAEP scores by state

The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Arkansas, Illinois, and Iowa), Missouri has the second smallest share of eighth grade students who scored at or above proficient in math.[14]

Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013
Math - Grade 4 Math - Grade 8 Reading - Grade 4 Reading - Grade 8
Missouri 39 33 35 36
Arkansas 39 28 32 30
Illinois 39 36 34 36
Iowa 48 36 38 37
U.S. average 41 34 34 34
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013


Graduation, ACT and SAT scores

See also: Graduation rates by groups in state
See also: ACT and SAT scores in the U.S.

The following table shows the graduation rates and average composite ACT and SAT scores for Missouri and surrounding states.[14][15][16]

Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*
State Graduation rate, 2012 Average ACT Composite, 2012 Average SAT Composite, 2013
Percent Quintile ranking** Score Participation rate Score Participation rate
Missouri 86% First 21.6 75% 1,773 4%
Arkansas 84% Second 20.3 88% 1,697 4%
Illinois 82% Third 20.9 100% 1,807 5%
Iowa 89% First 22.1 63% 1,763 3%
U.S. average 80% 21.1 1,498
*Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express

Dropout rate

See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states

The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Missouri was higher than the national average at 3.4 percent in the 2010-2011 school year. The dropout rate was lower than the national average at 2.9 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.[17]

Educational choice options

See also: School choice in Missouri

School choice options in Missouri include: charter schools, open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 11.50 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Education funding and expenditures

See also: Missouri state budget and finances
Breakdown of expenditures by function in FY 2012
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 22.6 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 1.60 percentage points, or 6.6 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 24.2 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.[18][19][20][21][22]

Comparison of financial figures for school systems
State Percent of budget (2012) Per pupil spending (2011) Revenue sources (2011)
Percent federal funds Percent state funds Percent local funds
Missouri 22.6% $9,410 13.75% 29.33% 56.92%
Arkansas 16.3% $9,353 16.02% 51.2% 32.77%
Illinois 15.8% $10,774 10.09% 32.42% 57.49%
Iowa 16.8% $9,807 10.15% 43.18% 46.66%
Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013

Revenue breakdowns

See also: Public school system revenues in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Missouri totaled approximately $10.1 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Missouri and surrounding states.[23]

Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)
Federal revenue State revenue Local revenue Total revenue
Missouri $1,389,362 $2,963,196 $5,749,895 $10,102,453
Arkansas $834,685 $2,667,090 $1,707,234 $5,209,009
Illinois $2,895,524 $9,304,948 $16,499,969 $28,700,441
Iowa $596,688 $2,537,754 $2,742,378 $5,876,820
U.S. total $74,943,767 $267,762,416 $264,550,594 $607,256,777
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)


Expenditure breakdowns

See also: Public school system expenditures in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Missouri totaled approximately $10.0 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Missouri and surrounding states.[23]

Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)
Current expenditures** Capital outlay Other*** Total expenditures
Missouri $8,664,338 $856,962 $462,300 $9,983,600
Arkansas $4,495,309 $607,962 $578,992 $5,682,263
Illinois $24,525,567 $1,884,976 $1,138,206 $27,548,749
Iowa $4,839,681 $861,361 $126,588 $5,827,630
U.S. total $520,577,893 $52,984,139 $29,581,293 $603,143,325
**Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)


Personnel salaries

See also: Public school teacher salaries in the U.S.
Note: Salaries given are averages for the state. Within states there can be great variation in salaries between urban, suburban and rural districts. When comparing nominal teachers' salaries, it is important to remember that for a true comparison, salaries must be adjusted for the cost of living in each area. For example, when adjusted for cost of living, Los Angeles drops from second highest to 17th highest; New York City drops even further, from third highest to 59th out of 60.[24]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Missouri, the average salary decreased by 2.5 percent.[25]

Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)
1999-2000 2009-2010 2011-2012 2012-2013 Percent difference
Missouri $48,727 $48,373 $47,178 $47,517 -2.5%
Arkansas $45,625 $49,850 $47,085 $46,632 2.2%
Illinois $63,527 $66,264 $58,595 $59,113 -6.9%
Iowa $48,757 $52,973 $51,076 $51,528 5.7%
U.S. average $57,133 $58,925 $56,340 $56,383 -1.3%
**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."



In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Missouri ranked 38th overall, or "weak," which was in the fourth of five tiers.[26]

The main unions related to the Missouri school system are the Missouri National Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and the Missouri Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). For the 2003 tax period, the Missouri National Education Association had: $7.52 million in total revenue, $7.47 million in total expenses and $3.13 million in total assets.[27] For the same period, the Missouri Federation of Teachers had: $373,550 in total revenue, $370,769 in total expenses and $82,638 in total assets.[28]

List of local Missouri school unions:[29]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Missouri government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Missouri School Boards Association.


The Missouri Accountability Portal is the state's spending transparency database. It discloses information about state government spending, and includes data on state employee salaries, agency expenditures, and tax credit information. The Missouri Accountability Portal was created at the executive order of Governor Matt Blunt in July 2007.

Studies and reports

Quality Counts 2014

See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report

Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:

  1. Chance for success
  2. K-12 achievement
  3. Standards, assessments and accountability
  4. The teaching profession
  5. School finance
  6. Transitions and Alignment

Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.

Missouri received a score of 77.3, or a C+ average in the "chance for success" category. This was equal to the national average. The state's highest score was in "standards, assessments and accountability" at 78.9, or a C+ average. The lowest score was in "K-12 achievement" at 66.0, or a D average. When compared to its neighbors, Missouri had the lowest score for K-12 achievement. The chart below displays the scores of Missouri and its surrounding states.[30]

Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.

Public education report cards, 2014
State Chance for success K-12 achievement Standards, assessments and accountability The teaching profession School finance Transitions and Alignment
Missouri 77.3 (C+) 66.0 (D) 78.9 (C+) 69.3 (D+) 70.5 (C-) 75.0 (C)
Arkansas 71.8 (C-) 66.7 (D+) 94.4 (A) 88.0 (B+) 74.1 (C) 96.4 (A)
Illinois 80.2 (B-) 69.6 (C-) 91.0 (A-) 67.9 (D+) 76.8 (C+) 75.0 (C)
Iowa 84.2 (B) 67.3 (D+) 74.5 (C) 78.7 (C+) 73.8 (C) 82.1 (B-)
United States Average 77.3 (C+) 70.2 (C-) 85.3 (B) 72.5 (C) 75.5 (C) 81.1 (B-)
Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015

A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.

State Budget Solutions education study

See also: State spending on education v. academic performance (2012)

State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.


Stipend scandal in St. Joseph

Investigations into accounting and hiring practices

The St. Joseph School District faces investigations by the Missouri State Auditor, the United States Department of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to stipends issued by former Superintendent Fred Czerwonka. The former superintendent, appointed in July 2013, allegedly used a rebate from the district's insurance provider to distribute $270,000 in stipends to 54 administrators without board approval. District policy requires a report to the school board and a deposit of any excess funds including refunds from vendors. Czerwonka, district Human Resources Director Doug Flowers and school board member Dan Colgan also face accusations of using their positions to guarantee promotions within the district and raises for family members.

On January 20, 2015, both Czerwonka and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Rick Hartigan were placed on paid administrative leave. The board later voted in February 2015 to fire Czerwonka.

Missouri-Stipend Scandal.jpg
Learn more about the scandal in
the St. Joseph School District...
The story so far
The stipend scandal
The FBI probe
The rescinded suspension
The $2 million shortfall
The secret tapes
The ousted administrators
The state audit
The fallout begins
The superintendent axed
The firings continue
The board resignation
The video recap
The investigation spreads
The lawsuit settlement
The settlement details
Key figures
Superintendent Fred Czerwonka
CFO Beau Musser
COO Rick Hartigan
HR Director Doug Flowers
Trustee Chris Danford
Trustee Dan Colgan
State Auditor Thomas Schweich
State Sen. Robert Schaaf
St. Joseph School District
2014 school board election
2015 tax levy renewal
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Missouri State Auditor

Beau Musser involvement and suspension

The flashpoint for the mismanagement allegations was a school board meeting on March 24, 2014. Board member Chris Danford presented information she received from district residents about the stipends offered by Czerwonka. Beau Musser, the district's chief financial officer (CFO), also revealed that he received a list of stipend recipients from Flowers. Musser was placed on paid leave on March 28, 2014, after the superintendent presented him with several accusations of sexual harassment against district employees. The CFO claimed in a lawsuit against the district that Czerwonka offered to drop the harassment claims if he resigned from his position. During Musser's time as CFO, he found that the district could not account for 4,000 gallons of fuel, failed to follow bidding procedures for district vehicles and approved $189,000 in consulting fees without board approval.

A press release issued by the district in November 2014 revealed that Musser would be returning to work, with the transitional assistance of OMNI Employment Management Services, an HR consulting firm. In addition, documents obtained by the St. Joseph News-Press stated that the district will be conducting an investigation into whether the initial suspension of Musser by administrators was justified.[31]

On March 26, 2015, in an executive session, the St. Joseph Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to settle Musser's lawsuit against the district charging wrongful termination, breach of contract and slander. "We are relieved that we are at this point," said board member Chris Danford. On April 10, 2015, the district announced that it was paying Musser $450,000 to settle the slander lawsuit. The full agreement can be read here.

Secret tapes, superintendent fired

It was revealed in a January 2015 Ballotpedia report that CFO Beau Musser had secretly taped conversations from crucial meetings with Czerwonka and other district officials. Those tapes, which could prove to be important evidence, are being reviewed by lawyers involved in Musser's lawsuit, in addition to the FBI.

On January 20, 2015, after a closed door session, Czerwonka and Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan were both put on paid administrative leave by a vote of four to one. Board members Kappy Hodges, Lori Prussman, Chris Danford and Brad Haggard all voted in favor of the two men being placed on leave. Dan Colgan was the only board member to vote against it. However, Martin Rucker was not present for the meeting and told News-Press he was working in Jefferson City and could not make it to the meeting. Dennis Snethen attended the meeting with members of the state auditor's office, after which he left and did not return for the vote about Czerwonka and Hartigan's leaves.[32] Both exited the building without comment. On February 20, 2015, the school board voted 6-0 in a closed executive session to fire Czerwonka. Colgan was the only board member not present at the meeting.

2015 financial audit report, "poor" rating

On February 17, 2015, a 53-page financial report was released by the Missouri State Auditor. Approximately 250 parents and community members attended its release at a new elementary school that opened in 2014. Missouri Auditor Thomas Schweich (R), revealed his findings to the crowd: a widespread lack of financial control. Schweich pointed to stipends unknown and unapproved by the school board, financial mismanagement that is now speculated to date back as far as 2000. The total number of dollars involved in the stipend system could range from $25 million over eight years to $40 million over 14 years. In either case, says Schweich, "a staggering amount of money" is involved.

At the forefront, the audit points to two of the district's top administrators, former Superintendent Fred Czerwonka and Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan, for adding thousands of dollars to their compensation without board approval and for other expenses charged to the district. For example, Czerwonka was given an additional $6,000 on top of his $190,000 salary for having a graduate degree. That degree is required for the position and was not listed anywhere in Czerwonka's contract. Hartigan’s base salary in 2014 was $97,700, however he received an additional $35,343 in stipends for being on the superintendent’s council, night duty, longevity and for something simply labeled "additional." According to Schweich, no one at the district could explain what this "additional" expense could be.

Schweich also rated the district’s performance as "poor." St. Joseph is the only Missouri school district to be rated that low by the state auditor’s office. According to school board member Chris Danford, the strain of this investigation is hurting the district's students. "We don’t have textbooks for everyone. We have larger classes. I mean, we could have done so much more for our students. They don’t get those years back." The audit also says the district has too many no-bid contracts, does not have an adequate system for tracking district property such as cell phones and tablets, and has too many employees with credit cards.

Allegations of nepotism

Nepotism is also a significant problem in the district, according to Missouri Auditor Thomas Schweich (R). The audit singled out Human Resources Director Doug Flowers and school board member Dan Colgan, a retired St. Joseph superintendent. Doug's wife Tammy Flowers and Czerwonka's wife Wendy both received controversial promotions and raises in 2014. According to district sources, both women were recently interviewed by the FBI in their district offices.

In regard to Colgan, the audit criticizes the district for providing him with medical insurance for life when he retired in 2005. In 2014, the amount paid for Colgan's medical insurance was $4,600. Additionally, Colgan’s son, Mark, also manages the district’s warehouse. In 2014, he was promoted, along with a $16,226 raise. The audit says no documentation detailing Mark Colgan’s additional duties was created. The position also requires a master’s degree, which Colgan does not have.

The audit says the district "has not established adequate policies and procedures for the hiring, supervising and tracking of related employees."

Reaction to financial report

Following the release of the audit, acting superintendent Dr. Jake Long said the district is continuing to make improvements with regard to the auditor's recommendations. District officials say that many of the changes have been underway since April 2014, when they were alerted to some of the financial issues. Those issues could not be discussed previously because of auditor investigation confidentiality issues. According to Long, "[District officials are] not going to wait until the problem comes out to change it if it’s wrong and the wrong process to go about doing it.”

CFO Beau Musser commented on the tough decisions the district will have to face in regards to payroll and accounting, as a result of the audit. Musser said he is in favor of adequate payroll staff so that oversight is provided for those concerns. "We have a $120 million budget and we have one accounts payable clerk. Any organization our size would be wise to have a purchasing manager and have a lot more control," he said.

Board member Kappy Hodges stated the district will follow any budget recommendations set forth by the auditor and will also conduct a market analysis salary and expenditure study. Hodges thinks accountability is the answer: "I think we need to hold people accountable that made bad judgment calls that are more than just a simple mistake."[33]

A Ballotpedia report on the St. Joseph School District scandal.

Criminal investigation called for, changes in legislation

In the wake of the audit's release, a Missouri state senator is calling for a criminal investigation by the Missouri attorney general of those involved in the scandal. State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R) from St. Joseph deems the actions uncovered by Missouri State Auditor Thomas Schweich "illegal and greatly disturbing." Schaaf said in a statement that he has asked the attorney general to "closely examine the documents the auditor has compiled and bring charges against those responsible for the mishandling of the funds within the St. Joseph public schools." He is also calling for the Governor's Office and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to demand $3.5 million in state aid be returned from the school district.[34]

In addition, Schaaf filed legislation that would shorten school board terms from six years to three years. That bill, Senate Bill 473, passed on April 2, 2015. According to Schaaf, longer terms foster a cozy relationship between the board and administrators, which can prompt the lack of oversight and accountability uncovered by the audit. The bill will also allow St. Joseph voters to recall school board members.[35]

On April 8, 2015, the Missouri General Assembly overrode a gubernatorial veto of a bill that aims to keep superintendents from seeking a seat on the board of a district they previously served. Resigned board member Dan Colgan served as St. Joseph's superintendent for 14 years before he sought election to the board. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed the bill on April 3, 2015, saying that the law would prevent too many administrators from seeking office. Lawmakers are pledging to revise the bill to address the governor's questions. “We are committed to addressing the governor’s concerns in another bill and still have two provisions related to the St. Joseph School District we are continuing to work on,” Schaaf said.[36]

Firings continue, Flowers demoted

A week after the St. Joseph board voted to fire Superintendent Fred Czerwonka, Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan was also relieved of his duties at St. Joseph on February 28, 2015. Hartigan had previously been in charge of all district vendor contracts. On the same day, the board demoted Human Resources Director Doug Flowers, offering him a teaching contract for the 2015-2016 school year. These three top administrators were roundly criticized in a report from the Missouri State Auditor. According to sources, all have been interviewed multiple times by the FBI as part of the ongoing investigation.

Colgan resigns

As a result of the overwhelming controversy surrounding him, school board member Dan Colgan resigned from his position on March 5, 2015. The resignation came after much speculation regarding his status, largely because as an elected member, Colgan couldn't have been ousted. There is no law that allows St. Joseph Board of Education members to be recalled by voters. Colgan sent a terse resignation letter to St. Joseph Board President Brad Haggard, calling his decision to resign difficult "as I dearly love the St. Joseph School District." The board will now take applications for the open seat. Board member Chris Danford says they hope to fill the open slot by the April board meeting.

Grand jury sends subpoena to West Plains School District

In late March 2015, the federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo. sent a subpoena to West Plains School District, also in Missouri, where Czerwonka served as superintendent from 2009 to 2013. West Plains Superintendent Dr. John Mulford confirmed he received the subpoena in the mail. "The FBI made it clear that the West Plains District is not being investigated," Mulford said. "The subpoena is for records for a former West Plains employee now in St. Joseph." At the same time of the request, the jury sent a fourth subpoena to St. Joseph, with Czerwonka being the link between the two. Sources say the latest subpoena in St. Joseph demands expense reports and time sheets for some top administrators and contracts from certain district vendors.

Financial repercussions

In December 2014, it was disclosed in a report by Ballotpedia that the district could lose up to $2 million in state funding in addition to the slew of federal charges facing them. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education notified the district that it was disallowing reimbursement for more than half of the district's summer school classes because they did not follow specific guidelines. Some of these offenses included the class was not being held in a district building and that parents were charged a fee for the class. The district has since disputed some of the charges. To add to the mix, a significant part of the district’s property tax levy sunsets this year. The district stands to lose $6.5 million at a time when the district is already deficit-spending and eating into its reserves if voters don’t renew it. A recent poll indicated that if the levy were on the ballot today, 48 percent would vote against it, 39 percent would vote to renew it and the remaining 14 percent are undecided.

School districts

See also: School board elections portal

District types

Missouri contains multiple types of school districts. In addition to traditional school districts, the state also includes consolidated and reorganized districts, which were originally formed from two or more districts in the past. Consolidated districts are denoted with a "C" and a number in their legal name, while reorganized districts are denoted with an "R" and a number instead.[37]

District statistics

See also: List of school districts in Missouri

The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment, average Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test scores and per-pupil spending per Average Daily Attendance (ADA):[38][39]

Student enrollment, 2011-2012 MAP index scores, 2012-2013 Per-pupil spending per ADA, 2012-2013
1.) Springfield R-XII 1.) Lindbergh 1.) Savannah R-III
2.) St. Louis 2.) Clayton 2.) Tarkio R-I
3.) Rockwood R-VI 3.) Nixa R-II 3.) Rock Port R-II
4.) Fort Zumwalt R-II 4.) Kirkwood R-7 4.) Fairfax
5.) North Kansas City #74 5.) Ladue 5.) Community
6.) Hazelwood 6.) Brentwood 6.) Van-Far R-I
7.) Lee's Summit R-VII 7.) Leopold R-III 7.) Mexico
8.) Parkway C-II 8.) Rockwood R-VI 8.) Wheaton R-III
9.) Francis Howell R-III 9.) Park Hill 9.) Southwest R-V
10.) Columbia #93 10.) Lawson R-XIV 10.) Exeter

School board composition

Missouri school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although some board members are appointed. Missouri school board elections typically follow one of these two methods, or a mixture thereof:

  • At-large: All voters residing in the school district may vote for any candidates running, regardless of geographic location.
  • District: Only voters residing in a specific geographic area within the school district may vote on certain candidates, who must also reside in that specific geographic area.

School boards typically consist of seven or nine members. Board members in most districts serve three-year terms, although board members in Kansas City and St. Louis serve four-year terms and board members in Independence and St. Joseph serve six-year terms.[37]

Term limits

Missouri does not impose statewide term limits on school board members.[40]


See also: Missouri school board elections, 2014 and Missouri school board elections, 2015

A total of 16 Missouri school districts among America's largest school districts by enrollment held elections in 2015 for 35 seats. All of the elections were scheduled on April 7, 2015.

Here are several quick facts about Missouri's school board elections in 2015:

  • The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 was Springfield Public Schools with 25,545 K-12 students.
  • The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 was Mehlville School District with 10,537 K-12 students.
  • Three districts were tied for the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election in each.
  • The other 13 districts were tied the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with two seats up for election in each.

The district listed below served 258,484 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district name for more information on the district and its school board elections.

2015 Missouri School Board Elections
District Date Seats up for election Total board seats Student enrollment
Blue Springs School District 4/7/2015 2 7 14,203
Columbia Public Schools 4/7/2015 2 7 17,719
Ferguson-Florissant School District 4/7/2015 2 7 11,723
Fort Zumwalt R-II School District 4/7/2015 2 7 18,871
Fox C-6 School District 4/7/2015 2 7 11,759
Francis Howell School District 4/7/2015 2 7 19,835
Hazelwood School District 4/7/2015 2 7 18,325
Lee's Summit R-7 Schools 4/7/2015 2 7 17,783
Liberty Public Schools 4/7/2015 2 7 11,549
Mehlville School District 4/7/2015 2 7 10,537
North Kansas City Schools 4/7/2015 3 7 19,443
Park Hill School District 4/7/2015 2 7 10,579
Parkway Schools 4/7/2015 2 7 16,192
Rockwood School District 4/7/2015 3 7 20,450
Springfield Public Schools 4/7/2015 3 7 25,545
Wentzville R-IV School District 4/7/2015 2 7 13,971

Path to the ballot

To qualify for the ballot as a school board candidate in Missouri, a person must be:[37]

  • 24 years of age or older
  • A citizen of Missouri for at least one year prior to the election
  • A resident of the school district
  • A "resident taxpayer" of the school district

A person must not be:

  • A current employee of the school district, unless they are an independent contractor
  • Serving in another public office, unless they are a county administrator, county clerk or circuit clerk
  • A registered sex offender or a required to register as a sex offender
  • Someone who plead guilty or nolo contendere to or is convicted of a felony, unless the sentence or probationary period of the felony is completed
  • Someone who plead guilty to or was convicted of a crime connected with the exercise of the right of suffrage
  • A former candidate for public office who failed to file required campaign disclosures or to pay assessed fees from a previous election

The "resident taxpayer" clause is ambiguous regarding what constitutes "taxpayer" status. According to a pamphlet published by the Missouri School Boards' Association, it is possible but not certain that paying sales taxes in the district would qualify someone to meet that requirement. In the 1939 State ex Inf. Mitchell ex rel. Goodman v. Heath decision by the Missouri Supreme Court, the court ruled that paying property taxes would fulfill this requirement. In Columbia, Fort Zumwalt, Independence, Kansas City, Lee's Summit, St. Joseph and Springfield, board members are required to be "voters of the district" instead of "resident taxpayers."

The requirements for running as a school board candidate in St. Louis are more stringent. Candidates must be "residents and citizens" of the city both at the time of the election and for three years prior to the election. Candidates may not hold any other public office except for notary public, and candidates may not be involved or have a stake in any contract or claim against the board "either directly or indirectly."

The process of running for office as a school board candidate begins with filing a "declaration of intent" and a separate statement acknowledging that the candidate has received a written notice that they must file a personal financial disclosure statement and a copy of the summary of laws from the Missouri Ethics Commission. The latter two documents will be given to candidates when they file their declaration of intent. Candidates may file from the 16th Tuesday preceding the election to the 11th Tuesday preceding the election. The only exception to that timeline is for districts with boundaries that extend into Kansas City. The timeline for those districts begins on the 15th Tuesday preceding the election instead. Candidates must file their statements in person, although allowances may be made if a candidate is performing military service or has a disability preventing them from visiting the school district office.

Candidates may withdraw from the ballot at any time upon request before the district office has certified the candidate list. After certification and before the sixth Tuesday preceding the election, candidates may still withdraw from the ballot if they obtain a court order. There is no legal mechanism to allow a candidate to withdraw from the ballot after the sixth Tuesday preceding the election has passed.

The rules regarding write-in candidate filing requirements vary depending on the number of other candidates who filed. If no candidates filed for a position, write-in candidates are not required to file a declaration of intent. This is also true if fewer candidates filed than the total number of available seats. If neither of these circumstances are the case, then write-in candidates must file a declaration of intent with the appropriate election authority prior to the close of business on the second Friday preceding the election.[37]

Campaign finance

The type of personal financial disclosure statement that candidates are required to file depends on the policies of each school district. If a school district's annual operating budget is equal to or less than $1 million, candidates are not required to file a statement. The filing deadline for these statements is 14 days after the filing deadline for candidacy. If candidates fail to file a statement within 21 days of the deadline, their names will be automatically removed from the ballot.

State law places no limit on the total amount of contributions that a candidate may receive. Candidates may not receive more than $100 in cash contributions per contributor, and any contribution in excess of $5,000 must be reported electronically to the Missouri Ethics Commission within 48 hours of its receipt. Anonymous donations are capped at $25 per donor, and candidates may not receive more than $500 in total anonymous contributions or one percent of all contributions received in that calendar year.[37]

Education ballot measures

See also: Education on the ballot and List of Missouri ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.

  1. Missouri Affecting the Tax Rate for School Purposes Amendment, Issue 1 (1918)
  2. Missouri Bonds for Educational Institutions, Amendment 1 (January 1956)
  3. Missouri Cigarette Tax for Schools, Referendum 1 (October 1955)
  4. Missouri County Board of Education Proposition, Issue 12 (1922)
  5. Missouri Education Tax Increase, Proposition B (1991)
  6. Missouri Free Public Schools Amendment, Issue 1 (1912)
  7. Missouri Gambling Loss Limits, Proposition A (2008)
  8. Missouri General Assembly Expenses, Issue 1 (1946)
  9. Missouri Impeachment Powers within State Education Amendment, Issue 8 (February 1924)
  10. Missouri Increase of School Taxes, Issue 1 (1950)
  11. Missouri Issue 8, Tax Assessments, Bonds and Public Education (1938)
  12. Missouri Kansas City School Operating Levy, Amendment 3 (April 1998)
  13. Missouri Lottery Proceeds for Education, Amendment 11 (August 1992)
  14. Missouri Maximum School Taxes Rate, Amendment 4 (August 1982)
  15. Missouri Organization of Public Education Amendment, Issue 15 (1924)
  16. Missouri Property and School Tax, Issue 8 (1938)
  17. Missouri Public School Fund Management, Issue 1 (1944)
  18. Missouri Repeal Separate Schools for White and Colored Children, Amendment 5 (August 1976)
  19. Missouri Revenue for School Purpose Amendment, Issue 2 (1918)
  20. Missouri School District Bond Limit, Amendment 2 (August 1996)
  21. Missouri School District Bond Limit, Amendment 4 (April 1998)
  22. Missouri School District Debt Limit, Amendment 2 (1952)
  23. Missouri School District Property Tax, Amendment 2 (January 1966)
  24. Missouri School Foundation Program, Referendum 2 (October 1955)
  25. Missouri School Operating Levy, Amendment 2 (1998)
  26. Missouri School Taxes, Issue 1 (1942)
  27. Missouri Student Assistance, Amendment 7 (August 1976)
  28. Missouri Tax Increase to Support Public Education Amendment, Issue 9 (1912)
  29. Missouri Tax Levy to Support Universities Amendment, Issue 11 (1910)
  30. Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation, Amendment 3 (2014)
  31. Missouri Teachers Pensions, Issue 3 (1934)
  32. Missouri Teachers Pensions, Issue 3 (1936)

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Missouri + Education "

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Missouri Education News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
  5. United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
  6. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Vision, Mission and Goals," accessed May 22, 2014
  7. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Commissioner," accessed May 22, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "About the State Board," accessed May 22, 2014
  10. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
  11. Missouri Learning Standards, "About the Missouri Learning Standards," accessed June 17, 2014
  12. Columbia Daily Tribune, "Governor vetoes teacher gun bill, signs Common Core reform measure," July 14, 2014
  13. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
  15. ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
  16. Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
  17. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
  18. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
  19. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
  20. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
  21. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
  22. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
  24. Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
  25. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
  26. Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
  27. Center for Union Facts, "Missouri National Education Association," accessed April 11, 2010
  28. Center for Union Facts, "Missouri Federation of Teachers," accessed April 11, 2010
  29. Center for Union Facts, "Missouri teachers unions," accessed April 11, 2010
  30. Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
  31. St. Joseph News-Press, "Firm to investigate Musser suspension," November 5, 2014
  32. St. Joseph News-Press, "Board again waives attorney-client privilege," January 29, 2015
  33. News-Press NOW, "District begins on long road to recovery," February 19, 2015
  34. St. Joe Channel, "State Lawmaker Calls for Charges in SJSD Investigation," February 18, 2015
  35. News-Press Now, "Senate passes school board term limits bill," April 2, 2015
  36. News-Press Now, "Lawmakers override Nixon veto of school bill," April 8, 2015
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 Missouri School Boards' Association, "A Candidate’s Guide to Running for the School Board," accessed July 8, 2014
  38. Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, "District and School Information," accessed August 6, 2013
  39. Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, "State Assessment," accessed July 8, 2014
  40. National School Boards Association, "Survey of the State School Boards Associations on Term Limits for Local Board Members," accessed July 8, 2014