Legislative leaders announce return to session

Republican leadership in both chambers announced this week their plan to return to Jefferson City on April 27 to resume the regular legislative session.  There are still many unknowns about what legislation will be taken up and debated and logistically how the process will be carried out with social distancing measures in place. 

Leaders in both chambers stated, “During this unprecedented time, our legislative body has worked to balance the health and safety of members, staff, and visitors with our constitutional obligation to pass a budget.  The decision to move forward on April 27 was not an easy one, however it is absolutely critical for the people of Missouri that we keep the state government funded and services operating without interruption. The General Assembly will continue to adhere to social distancing and infection mitigation procedures when members return. Committee hearings and legislative proceedings will remain open to the public and their testimony. We strongly encourage members of the public to follow social distancing guidelines and participate in the legislative process electronically when possible.” 

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Thursday that Missouri’s stayathome order has been extended until May 3. 

MSTA will continue to advocate for members while following all legislative work during the regular session and any possible special sessions called by Gov. Parson.   

Text “MSTA” to 52886

With the uncertainty of a shortened session and many questions regarding accessibility of legislators, it is important that MSTA members stay engaged and sign up for MSTA’s Rapid Response Program.  Many members have already made strong connections earlier in the session opposing harmful charter school expansion and their voices were heard. Member engagement makes a difference, and staying involved in this uncertain time is critical to supporting public education.    

To make sure you are one of the first to know about any important MSTA activities, text “MSTA” to 52886.   

 

Governor closes school buildings for the year 

On Thursday April 9, Gov. Mike Parson announced that Missouri schools would remain closed through this school year. The governor stated he made the decision based on recommendations from several school superintendents and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  At the governor’s press conference, Commissioner Margie Vandeven stated that “…school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the school year…but school services should continue through the last day of school in each school district, as pre-established by the school calendar approved by their local board of education.”   

The commissioner praised the work that professional educators are doing to meet the needs of all students in their communities and adapt to our ever changing realities, stating, “We cannot applaud these educators enough, as well as our families at home, for stepping up to the plate to make learning a possibility amid this new normal.” 

The State Board of Education is also scheduled to meet via telephone conference on April 27. An agenda for that meeting has not yet been released. 

Misty Grandel, ELA teacher at Fordland High School and the 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year responded with the following comments following the governor’s announcement: 

Today, Governor Parson announced the closure of Missouri public school campuses for the remainder or the 2019-2020 school year. Just as this decision weighed heavily upon the governor, it also weighs on every student, educator, school board member, parent, and citizen in our state. It is a new reality for us all, and we will not know the full ramifications of this decision for years to come. What we do know, though, is that Missouri’s 70,000 teachers will continue to do what they do best: educate and love kids. Through remote instruction, daily phone calls, online class meetings, packets, and food service, we will continue to meet the needs of every student in every district in this state. However, that is just the beginning. Educators must work to be prepared for the return of students who will be deeply impacted by this virus that has ravaged the fundamentals of their lives. These children to whom we have promised our very best efforts will come back to us changed by these disruptions. They will come back to a system that must also be changed. As before, focus will continue to be placed on curriculum, and finding a way to bridge the chasm that may be a result of missed traditional instruction. However, a focus must also be on the social-emotional development of our students. We must work to ensure that our kids are okay not only academically, but also psychologically: that they are ready for the future in every way. We have a monumental responsibility before us. I know, without a doubt, Missouri is up to the task. We will work together to learn from this extraordinary circumstance, and public schools will come out of it stronger than before. 

Continue to follow MSTA for more information regarding actions from the governor and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

PSRS/PEERS election

On April 23, ballots will be mailed to all members of the PSRS/PEERS system for an election of two new members to the Public School & Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri Board of Trustees.  Missouri’s largest public education associations have endorsed two candidates that will protect the interests of ALL members of the system.  Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri Association of School Administrators, Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education and the Missouri NEA all recommend that members of the PSRS/PEERS System support Darren Farmer, teacher at the Polo R-VII School District and Dr. Melinda Moss, superintendent of Joplin Public Schools. 

Farmer and Moss understand the importance of maintaining a strong system that serves future, current and retired employees.  The broad support from across the education community of Farmer and Moss illustrates their background and understanding of how decisions on the board will impact all members and keep the system as strong as possible and out of the hands of Jefferson City politicians and bureaucrats, while not beholden to any special interests.  

Farmer and Moss understand that decisions regarding the system not only impact potential cost of living adjustments for retirees, but also the contribution rate for current employees and returns on investments that are very fluid with the current economy. 

Endorsements

“As an educator of 28 years, I am voting for Dr. Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer for the PSRS/PEERS board. Dr. Moss started in banking and finance and manages a district of 7,504 students meaning she understands the complexity of working with a large budget.  Her diverse experiences as an educator coupled with her experiences in banking and finance will help Dr. Moss make informed decisions.  I believe Mr. Farmer’s perspective as a classroom teacher is one that is needed at the table. I am confident that electing these two to the PSRS/PEERS board is a smart decision for all active and retired educators.”   

Dr. Della Bell-Freeman 

Spokane R-7 Superintendent 

 As a female leader, and current president of MSTA, I strongly advocate for a female voice on the PSRS/PEERS board. Dr. Melinda Moss is that candidate. It’s also vital we include a classroom teacher who can represent our voices across the state, and for that reason, I support Mr. Darren Farmer.  It’s important to have qualified people – both male and female – sit on the board.. Please join me in voting for Dr. Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer in the upcoming election. 

Nickie Jones 

Camdenton R-III Teacher 

MSTA State President