WEBB CITY. Mo. — There’s barely a week left in the semester for many Four State schools, but the folks in charge are already looking past the Christmas break.

State test scores, maintaining school buildings, and hiring & firing, are just a few of the challenges that face school superintendents on a given day.

For Mt. Vernon superintendent Scott Cook, that list includes state funding and how lawmakers balance that with goals like tax relief.

“Right now in Jefferson City, they do have a pretty healthy fund balance. And I know they’re looking for ways to return that to taxpayers and as a taxpayer, I’m excited about that as well. But it always brings up in the back of your mind. How’s that going to affect funding in the long term?” said Scott Cook, Mt. Vernon R-V Supt.

Just one of the issues during a question and answer session at the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence.

State rep. Cody Smith addresses funding for teacher raises last session and what the future holds.

“Additional options, something that might be more sustainable – obviously teacher pay has been a local issue for many years. And I believe it still should be. You all know best how to spend your dollars at the local level,” said Rep. Cody Smith, (R) Missouri.

Smith joined state reps Ann Kelley and Dirk Deaton and state senator Mike Moon in talking about the possibility of school choice options, and the challenges of hiring qualified school staff.

Teacher recruitment and retention is a big priority, with suggestions to extend pay raises for teachers and funding other classroom projects.

“Also, the career ladder. That was approved last year. It was another positive step for educators. We’ve also taken advantage of that too in our district and our hope is that we continue to our legislators continue to look at those things and support those things and hopefully even add to that in the future,” said Dustin Storm, Miller School Supt.

Missouri lawmakers have fully funded the school foundation formula in recent years.

Superintendents are hoping to hold on to that but add other strategies to boost K-12 education.