MSTA Action Newsletter
May 17, 2013 MSTA ACTION
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SB125 goes to governor
It is hard to believe that a bill that was defeated twice during the legislative process is now headed to the governor for his signature.
SB125 (Nasheed) started as a bill to
align the teacher tenure system in St. Louis City with the rest of the state. It sailed through the Senate with only one dissenting vote. That is when the real drama with this bill unfolded.
The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee decided to use this bill as a vehicle to pass education reform measures that the House already soundly defeated. The bill was packed with harmful provisions dealing with teacher evaluations, reduction in force and changes to teacher tenure.
Before the bill could be debated by the entire House of Representatives, it had to be approved by the Fiscal Review Committee. To the surprise of the supporters of this bill, the bill was defeated in this committee. That did not stop the leadership of the House who pushed this bill as a priority. The Speaker of the House removed two members of the committee who did not support the bill. In this newly reduced committee, the bill was approved and sent to the floor for debate.
During debate, provisions in the bill were scaled back and included only harmful language on administrator evaluations. This was done in the hope of gaining enough votes to pass the bill. When the voting board opened, it was clear that proponents of public education were not going to support this bill, and even though the voting board stayed open for nearly 30 minutes so supporters could pressure members to support this bill, the measure failed.
After two defeats on the House floor, supporters realized that no education bill was going to pass containing these harmful provisions. They regrouped and decided to pass a non-controversial bill. The final version of SB125 contains the original provisions bringing St. Louis City teacher tenure in line with the rest of the state, and provisions dealing with the State Board of Education’s ability to intervene when a school district loses accreditation.
Currently there is a two-year waiting period between the classification of a school district as unaccredited and the lapse of the district’s corporate organization. Under the new law when the SBOE initially classifies, or reclassifies, a district as unaccredited, it must review the governance of the district to establish the conditions under which the existing school board will continue to govern or determine the date on which the district will lapse and determine an alternative governing structure for the district.
When it classifies a district as unaccredited, the SBOE may allow continued governance by the existing local board of education under specific terms and conditions. If the state board appoints a special administrative board to oversee the district, the board must consist of at least five members, the majority of whom must be district residents. In addition, the board members must reflect the population characteristics of the district and collectively possess strong experience in school governance, management and finance and leadership.
Also, the department must conduct at least two public hearings, which must be regarding the accreditation status of the district. Also, the hearings must provide an opportunity to convene community resources that may be useful or necessary to support the district as it attempts to return to accredited status. The hearings must be conducted at least twice annually for every year in which the district remains unaccredited or provisionally accredited.
This bill now awaits action by the governor.