Are Public Schools in St. Louis, Missouri Well Funded?


Quick Answer

Public schools in affluent St. Louis, Missouri neighborhoods are well funded, but schools located in poor intercity districts are extremely underfunded. At a 17 percent disparity, Missouri has the third worst funding gap in the country between wealthy and poor public schools, as of 2015.

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Full Answer

In Missouri, much of a public school's funding is generated from local property taxes in the specific school district. Affluent suburban St. Louis communities, including Clayton, Brentwood, Kirkwood, Parkway and Ladue, have higher property values that generate more tax revenue. These districts are funded to within a few dollars of the state's recommended per-student expenditure rates. This equates to seven out of the state's top 10 funded school districts being located in these areas.

Poor school districts, however, have a much different financial picture. Low-income areas such as the Bayless and Ritenour school districts have some of the worst per-student underfunding rates in the state. At an average underfunding of $875 per student, they rank well below the state's average of underfunding its students by $700. Typically the only worse-funded school districts are located in rural areas with even lower tax bases.

The net result is that students attending the wealthier districts in St. Louis tend to have improved chances at higher education and employment opportunities while those in poorer districts face a more difficult path.

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