MSTA Action – Feb. 17, 2017

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The week at a glance

  • Gov. Greitens has continued appointing members of his cabinet, including the new director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, a new director of the Department of Revenue, and the director of Health and Senior Services. Greitens also appointed three new members to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. All appointments must be confirmed by the Missouri Senate.
  • Members of a House subcommittee have begun investigations into the Missouri Department of Corrections regarding workplace environment and conduct.
  • The PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees met recently. They received an investment report as well as updated information regarding the state budget and legislation affecting the retirement system.
  • Bills changing labor laws, including project labor agreements for construction projects, continued to advance in the Missouri Senate. In the Missouri House, a variety of bills were debated and passed this week, including the creation of a “blue alert” system to apprehend criminals who have attacked or killed law enforcement officers, as well as an expansion of the state’s newborn screening requirements to cover spinal muscular atrophy and Hunter syndrome.

MSTA launches Pledge to Pledge program

Building and maintaining relationships with your elected officials is a vital part of being informed on important issues in the legislature. While MSTA works hard to advocate for members, nothing can replace the important relationship between a constituent and his or her representative. Although attendance for MSTA Capitol visits has continued to increase, many members do not have the opportunity to come to Jefferson City. MSTA has developed a program to help continue to build positive relationships between elected officials and public schools. This new program, MSTA’s Pledge to Pledge, encourages legislators to visit a school in their district and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. MSTA members can also request a legislator visit their school through an online form. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance is an opportunity for Americans to unite despite our differences. MSTA will update members on program participation, and provide a full list of participants during Teacher Appreciation Week in May. To sign up for this new program, please visit pledge.msta.org.

House subcommittee formed for Education Savings Accounts

Six members of the House were recently appointed to serve on the subcommittee on Education Savings Accounts. Subcommittees consider issues referred to them by the standing committee, meet and take testimony to address a prescribed issue, but do not act on specific bills. Upon completion of the committee’s work, a report will be delivered to the committee on Elementary and Secondary Education.

The members of the committee are:

  • Rep. Basye (chair)
  • Rep. Dogan
  • Rep. Matthiesen
  • Rep. Roeber
  • Rep. Bangert
  • Rep. Burnett

Virtual education bills moving in House, Senate

Efforts to improve access to virtual education are gaining momentum, with both the House and Senate committees hearing bills designed to increase access to online courses. Gov. Greitens called for improvements and expansion to access virtual education as part of his State of the State address earlier this year.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee gave approval to HB138 (Spencer). This bill changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to The Missouri Course Access Program (MCAP) and allows any K-12 student to enroll in up to two MCAP courses per year. The course would be paid by the school district or charter school if the student is enrolled in a public school and the course is approved by a school counselor or person designated by the school district or charter school.

A student who is enrolled in the MCAP and does not meet the requirements for the costs to be paid by the district or charter school must pay the costs for any course directly to the MCAP. The student’s home district pays the costs associated with MCAP courses up to the equivalent of a full-time student.

The bill also requires the State Board of Education to provide an easily accessible link for course vendors on the MCAP website and allow anyone to submit courses for approval.

The Senate Education Committee heard three bills addressing changes to virtual education. SB238 (Onder) and SB327 (Romine) are substantially similar to HB138 (Spencer). The goal of these bills is to improve access by allowing students the opportunity to take two virtual courses per year to be paid for by the local district up to the equivalent of a full-time student with approval by the local district for the course.

The other virtual education bill heard by the committee is somewhat different. SB360 (Hoskins) fixes a problem for students working toward A+ requirements. Currently, when a resident student completes a virtual course offered by his or her school district, the student’s attendance upon course completion is calculated as 94 percent of the hours of attendance possible if the class was delivered in a non-virtual program. The bill specifies that when a student is a candidate for A+ tuition reimbursements, the school must attribute no less than 95 percent attendance to any student who has completed the virtual course.

The bill also creates requirements that an accredited school district or charter school must meet in order to host a virtual public school of choice. Virtual transfer students are not included in the average daily attendance of his or her school district of residence for the purposes of calculation and distribution of state school funding. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall deduct from the state aid payment made to a virtual transfer student’s district of residence 15 percent of the state aid attributable to each student calculated in the foundation formula and credit that amount to the virtual public school of choice.

The virtual public school will receive any other federal or state aid that a school district receives on behalf of a virtual resident student or virtual transfer student.

If the virtual public school of choice complies with the provisions of the act, DESE will transfer an amount equal to the state adequacy target to the virtual public school of choice, and deduct the same amount from the state aid payment made to the virtual transfer student’s district of residence. The distribution of funds is calculated at 50 percent and 100 percent completion of courses. Assignments and assessments for special education students are set at levels appropriate to their abilities.

A virtual transfer student will not be admitted to a virtual public school of choice if admission would cause the amount of state aid deducted from the district of residence to exceed the aggregate amount due to the school district. The state adequacy target amount used shall be the amount calculated under the foundation formula for the applicable fiscal year.

Bill summaries

House

Elementary and Secondary Education

Executive Session

HB97 (Swan) would allow the State Board of Education to grant an initial visiting scholar a certificate as a license to teach in public schools. The applicant must be employed in a content area in which the individual has an academic degree or professional experience. He or she may only teach classes for ninth grade or higher and the hiring school district must verify that the applicant will be employed as part of a business-education partnership initiative designed to build career pathways systems for students. The certificate will last for one year and the applicant can renew it a maximum of two times if certain requirements are met. Voted out “do pass.”

HB324 (Neely) prohibits the school board of any school district from suspending any pupil out of school for truancy. Voted out “do pass” as substituted.

HB643 (Wood) changes the calculation of full-time equivalent average daily attendance of summer school students by modifying the divisor of such calculation. Voted out “do pass”.

HB677 (Rowland) allows a school district to use a calendar based on hours of attendance rather than hours and days of attendance, if the minimum number of hours is at least 1, 044 hours of actual pupil attendance. Voted out “do pass” as substituted.

Workforce Development

HB680 (T. Fitzwater) establishes a pilot program of three adult high schools to be operated by a Missouri nonprofit organization. An “adult high school” is defined as a school for an individual who is at least 21 years old without a high school diploma, offers industry certification programs that include a high school diploma and provides on-site child care for students. This bill requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant a license to a Missouri-based nonprofit organization before Jan. 1, 2018 to establish and operate three adult high schools in St. Louis City, Butler County or contiguous counties, Christian County or contiguous counties, and Boone County or contiguous counties.

HB799 (Lauer) will allow a teacher to count hours spent in a local business externship as contact hours of professional development. MSTA testified in support.

Transportation

HB560 (Redmon) requires school bus drivers who are 70 or older to complete a CDL skills test and the driver’s license exam on an annual basis in order to maintain their authority to drive buses.

HB631 (Redmon) Currently, school bus drivers provide an annual statement from a medical examiner certifying that they can safely operate a school bus. This bill extends the time period to two years if a medical examiner approved by the Department of Transportation agrees to issue a two-year certification instead of a one-year certification statement.

Senate

Education

See related story on virtual education bills.