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Governor Nixon withholding funds from extracurricular education organizations

Jay Nixon
File Photo
Jay Nixon's touting new plan "Missouri Works."

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has withheld state funding from two organizations aimed to educate Missouri's youth. The governor is withholding $750,000 from the Missouri Fine Arts Academy and the Missouri Scholars Academy for the upcoming year.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said withholding funds from the academies, along with other withheld funds, are due to a seven percent shortfall in the expected growth of state revenue. She said that the expected growth in revenue was 11 percent, but so far there has only been a 4 percent increase.

Missouri Fine Arts Academy Co-Director Ray Castrey said the amount of state funds the organization receives directly correlates with how many applications they receive from students. The money from the state is one factor that determines what the program fee will cost families. He said the higher the program fee, the less applications the organization receive.

"We can make all the plans that we want," Castrey said. "But ultimately we can only do what we have money to do, and right now we don't know how much money we will have."

Missouri Scholars Academy is in the same boat. Director Steve Keller said that his plan is to also charge a higher fee for each student, but he hopes he can rebate some of the costs back to the families.

This is familiar territory for the two organizations. Although both directors say that the funds were released around October last year, in some years past the money has been released much later.

"I don't think there is any normal way of (releasing the money)," Keller said. "It just depends on the political situation of the year."

"It would require us about an 11 percent growth in revenue to fully fund the budget that the legislature passed," Luebbering said. "Our current growth rate is around 4 percent."

Until there is any news of if the funds will be released, organizers at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy and Missouri Scholars Academy have to look at other ways to continue providing extracurricular education to Missouri's youth.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a producer, reporter and educator.
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