April 2, 2018

Spring has always been my favorite time of year for many reasons. Warming temperatures and breezes, more sunny hours in a day, birds chirping, flowers and trees blooming, working outside, spring cleaning, planning summer vacations, Easter, the beginning of a new baseball season, and the promise of what can be for the future. We enjoyed our first sunshine filled Spring day last Friday. As I planted a few pines in my yard, I had time to reflect on my first 21 months in St. James and the excitement of our future. The arrival of Spring represents the many possibilities of promise and growth in our lives.

Hopefully as this article is being printed, we have just passed the Proposition K.I.D.S. bond initiative. This will be one of the greatest growth plans our district will be implementing over the next two years. As I was reflecting on the possibilities that come with Prop K.I.D.S., I could hardly contain my excitement for our school and community. However, as I am writing this, the future of Prop K.I.D.S. is still unknown, so I also have to consider what our future holds without the passing of the bond issue. I continue to be thankful to the many community members who supported our efforts with this initiative over the past few months. Regardless of the outcome, our school will continue to improve, grow, and plan for our future.

One of our biggest challenges at St. James R-I Schools is the uncertainties of the state budget and our dependency on that funding. Presently, half of our funding comes from the state. Because of this, it is important for us to be cognizant of the state budget so that we can appropriately prepare our future budgets. Last week, the Missouri House passed and sent to the Senate its proposed state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The House plan includes a $98 million increase in funding for the foundation formula. If passed, this means the foundation formula will be fully funded. The House budget maintains transportation dollars at $92 million. State law provides that school transportation should be funded at 75% of the cost of transporting students, but is currently funded at only 30%. This shortfall in state transportation dollars impacts districts differently, depending on population and geography. I will continue to be in contact with the legislators who represent us about how the lack of funding for transportation impacts St. James R-I Schools. It is my hope that our legislators will continue to support public schools and as Spring unfolds, with it will bring more clarity to our budget plans.

Spring will also bring much excitement as we approach the close of another school year. There will be many ceremonies, sports, student activities, and celebrations. I look forward to watching the graduation of an excellent group of 115 seniors on May 20! So, get out in the sunshine, plant a few trees, support our students in all of their activities, and take advantage of every beautiful spring-like day we are granted!