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House committee reconsiders vote to add teacher to the SBOE

Last week we reported that the House Special Committee on Government Reform failed to approve SB695 (Wallingford). This week the committee reconsidered and voted to approve the bill.

Committee members did not have an issue with the underlying bill to put a teacher on the State Board of Education, but they did have issues with some of the amendments added to the bill. In order to get enough votes to pass the bill, some amendments were taken off the bill, so the bill got back to the original version of dealing only with putting a teacher on the SBOE.

The bill states that the teacher representative shall attend all board meetings and participate in deliberations. However, the teacher representative shall not have the right to vote on any matter or be counted for purposes of establishing a quorum.

The teacher must be a resident of Missouri, certified to teach, and have at least five years of teaching experience, be employed full time as a teacher in the state and not on leave. The teacher must also have the written support from their local school board before being appointed.

The teacher representative’s term shall be for four years and subsequent appointments shall be made in rotation from each Congressional District, beginning with the First Congressional District and continuing in numerical order. In the event of a vacancy in the position of teacher representative, the governor shall appoint a replacement by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The bill also includes a sunset date of Aug. 28, 2026, unless renewed by the legislature.

Currently, the board is made up of eight citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Members serve staggered, eight-year terms so that one term expires each year. No more than four members of the board may belong to the same political party. No more than one member of the board may reside in the same county or Congressional district. When terms expire, members continue to serve until being replaced or reappointed.

Senate approves budget

The Missouri Senate has given approval to a series of budget bills that comprise the $28 billion budget.

HB2002 (Fitzpatrick) is the budget bill that funds PreK-12 schools as well as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Senate approved a $48 million increase to the foundation formula. This would leave the formula $50 million short of full funding. Last month the House voted to fully fund the foundation formula by adding $98 million.

The Senate made a significant investment to fund school transportation. They approved a $25 million increase for transportation. The House version of the budget was to increase transportation spending by $2 million.

The Senate approved increases over the House budget in the following areas:

  • $5 million to the public placement fund for districts that receive children due to juvenile court placement.
  • $250,000 for the Missouri Charter School Commission
  • $1.5 million for Joplin School Disaster Relief

The Senate reduced the following items that were included in the House budget:

  • $100,000 of Parents as Teachers money specifically for provisionally or unaccredited school districts
  • $750,000 increase for Teach for America
  • $500,000 for a K-3 reading assessment
  • $250,000 for STEM awareness program
  • $250,000 for the Scholars and Fine Arts Academies
  • $25,000 for Rural School Board Training
  • $1 million for School Broadband Distribution

The next step in the budget process is to have House and Senate negotiators hash out differences between their versions of the budget bills before the budget gets sent to the governor.

Future of state board nominee uncertain

The first of Gov. Eric Greitens’ appointees to the State Board of Education was debated by the full Senate this week. Eddy Justice was first appointed by Greitens on July 31, 2017, but was withdrawn shortly before the legislative session and reappointed after session began, allowing his appointment to be confirmed before the end of session. Appointments made when the legislature is not in must be confirmed in the first 30 days of session.

On the first day of the legislative session, several senators said they would oppose all of Greitens’ appointees to the State Board of Education. Throughout the fall, Greitens facilitated an unprecedented turnover of the board and appointed 10 different people to finally fill five positions with the apparent goal of firing former Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. To date, Justice is the only appointment to have a hearing before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee.

After 20 minutes of debate, the motion to approve Justice was withdrawn. The appointment is still in the hands of the Senate. If the Senate takes no further action on the appointment, and refuses to return the appointment to Greitens, Justice will be unable to ever serve on the State Board of Education again.

Bill heard that would allow districts to withhold professional development monies

SB687 (Sater) was presented in the House Elementary and Secondary Education committee. The legislation would allow a school district, by the majority vote of the local school board, to restrict up to one-half of the 1 percent of monies required to be set aside for professional development. In order to trigger this provision, the transportation funding appropriated by the state must be less than 25 percent of the allowable costs. The state is currently appropriating about 17 percent of the allowable costs. The legislation has a six-year sunset, unless renewed by the legislature.

Virtual education bill voted out of House education committee

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee made several changes to a bill relating to virtual education before approving the bill.

Four amendments were adopted to SB603 (Onder), which changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) to “The Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program” and allows eligible students to enroll in program courses of their choice to be paid by the school. The student must have been enrolled full time in a public school for at least one semester immediately prior to enrolling in the program. Prior to enrolling, a student must receive advice from their school district. A student with a documented medical or psychological condition that prevented the student from attending school during the previous semester shall be exempt from the requirement that a student is enrolled full time in and attended a public school for at least one semester in order to enroll in Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program courses.

A school district or charter school shall pay, for any single, year-long course for a student, the market necessary costs or 14 percent of the state adequacy target as calculated at the end of the most recent school year. A school district or charter school shall pay no more than 7 percent of the state adequacy target as calculated at the end of the most recent school year for any single, semester-long course. The school is required to pay the provider directly after the provider submits an invoice for completed work. School districts and charter schools may negotiate with the course providers for a lower cost. Payment for a full-time virtual school student shall not exceed the state adequacy target, unless the student receives additional federal or state aid.

If a student who is a candidate for A+ tuition reimbursement enrolls in a course under the act, the school shall attribute no less than 95 percent attendance to any such student who has completed such course. This provision allows students who take virtual courses to remain eligible for the A+ scholarship.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will establish an authorization process for course providers and learning management systems and authorize those providers that submit all necessary information and offer courses that align to state academic standards.

DESE must also publish the authorization process along with deadlines and guidance on the submission process. If there are insufficient funds to evaluate and authorize course providers, DESE can charge applicant course providers a fee to ensure that evaluation occurs. The authorization process is designed to provide for continuous monitoring of course providers and courses. DESE is given the authority to revoke, suspend, or take other corrective action if a provider or individual course no longer meets the requirements of the program. A provider shall be given a reasonable time period to take corrective action to avoid such revocation or suspension. Authorization renewal would occur at least once every two years.

The act requires the State Board of Education to provide an easily accessible link for course vendors on the program website, and to allow anyone to submit course for approval.

Courses already approved through MoVIP by Aug. 28, 2018, will automatically be authorized to participate. School districts that provide online courses shall be deemed approved providers, but are subject to periodic renewal.

One of the most substantial amendments to the bill changes the approval of courses for students. The language in the amendment grants the district the authority to advise the students regarding courses, while the Senate version granted a school the ability to approve the courses that would be taken. The approval by the district is not punitive; it is an important oversight that the courses are appropriate for the student’s education level and meets their needs and goals toward graduation. If a student is denied enrollment in a course he or she may appeal the decision initially to the local school board which shall provide a decision within 30 calendar days, and then to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. DESE shall make a final enrollment decision within seven calendar days.

An amendment was also added that requires data to be submitted by providers and a report to be published annually on the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. The report will include the number of students enrolled in courses, the total number of courses offered, the cost of courses and student outcome data.

Career and technical education bills presented in Senate Committee

The Senate Education Committee heard two bills relating to career and technical education. The two bills are viewed as enhancements to career and technical education in the state.

SB1096 (Romine) allows high schools in Missouri to provide career and technical education that includes pathway programs in at least three career clusters relevant to needs of businesses and industry. The program may include opportunities for students to explore careers and guidance on career preparation and success, allow for students to earn industry-recognized credentials and certificates, participate in career and technical student organizations, and develop soft skills and business skills. The legislation would also advise programs to include opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning experiences that are aligned with the pathway program and allow for students to earn college credit for career and technical education courses.

The legislation is a framework that puts into law what many districts across the state are already doing. This legislation would not place any additional costs, restrictions or requirements on districts.

HB1660 (Swan) allows school district career and technical education programs that are approved by DESE to rely on technical coursework and skills assessments developed for industry recognized certificates and credentials. The bill also modifies the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council by adding the director of the Department of Economic Development or their designee. The bill requires the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council to annually review, update, approve and recommend a list of industry certificates, state-issued professional licenses, and occupational competency assessments. A school district may use the list as a resource in establishing programs of study that meet their regional workforce needs.

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