AT A GLANCE

civics action iconBills to watch in the final two weeks of session

With two weeks left, things are moving fast as extra amendments are tacked on to legislation. There are bills the chambers could bring up any time, as well as bills that could be added to the calendars right up until the last day of session, May 13.

confirm-webVote Heath and Zalis for PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees

All members of the PSRS/PEERS retirement systems should have received a ballot in the mail this week. This ballot contains instructions on how to vote for representation on the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees. Ballots can be submitted by mail, online or by phone.

certificateCareer and Technical Education bill sent to governor

A bill that makes changes to career and technical education has been approved by the General Assembly and sent to the governor.

piggy bank icon copy webRetirement language included in bill

When SB639 (Riddle) was debated by the House of Representatives, several provisions were added dealing with the Public School Retirement System, including language that would make permanent the 2.55 factor for working 31 or more years.

Missouri icon webBill summaries

A list of education-related bills being heard in House and Senate committees.

Bills to watch in the final two weeks of session

With two weeks left, things are moving fast as extra amendments are tacked on to legislation. There are bills the chambers could bring up any time, as well as bills that could be added to the calendars right up until the last day of session, May 13.

Currently on a legislative calendar:

House bills in the Senate:

HB1643 (Hicks) Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, a student may not receive a certificate of graduation from any public or charter school unless he or she has received 30 minutes of CPR instruction and training in the proper performance of the Heimlich maneuver or other first aid for choking given any time during the student’s four years of high school and included in the school district’s existing health or physical education curriculum.

HB1780 (P. Fitzwater) repeals the July 1, 2014 termination date of a provision allowing members of the Public School Retirement System of Missouri who have 31 or more years of creditable service to have their retirement allowance calculated using a multiplier of 2.55 percent.

HB2428 (Swan) Changes the term “guidance counselor” to “school counselor” in laws relating to elementary and secondary education.

Senate bill in the House:

SB646 (Schupp) Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, any licensed educator may annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for State Board of Education certification.

DESE shall develop guidelines for training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention, and must develop the corresponding materials.

Each district shall adopt a policy for youth suicide awareness and prevention by July 1, 2018. The department shall develop a policy by July 1, 2017, that districts may adopt. The department shall cooperate, consult with, and seek input from organizations with expertise in youth suicide awareness and prevention. By July 1, 2021, and at least every three years thereafter, DESE shall request information and seek feedback from districts. The department shall review this information and may use it to adapt the department’s model. The information will be posted on DESE’s website, but will not include any confidential information or anything that personally identifies a student or school employee.

Also HB1646 (Swan) needs one more vote in the House before it can go to the governor. The bill adds American Civics to the current existing prohibition on students receiving a certificate of graduation without having satisfactorily passed an examination on the provisions and principles of the United States and Missouri constitutions, American history and American institutions.

This bill creates the Missouri Civics Education Initiative. Any student entering ninth grade after July 1, 2017, who is attending a public, charter, or private school, except for private trade schools, must, as a condition of high school graduation take and pass an American civics test similar to the civics portion of the United States Naturalization test, produced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The bill allows the school district to administer the test on American civics in conjunction with testing on the provisions and principles of the U.S. and Missouri constitutions, American history, and American institutions. The school district may use an online test. Each district must adopt a policy permitting a student with a disability to receive a waiver from this requirement, if recommended by the student’s IEP committee.

The Senate added a provision that allows a school district to develop a policy allowing student participation in the Constitution Project of the Missouri Supreme Court to be recognized through credit for a portion of, or in collaboration with, the community service or citizenship requirements of the A+ Tuition Reimbursement Program, the Missouri and United States Constitution course, or any relevant course or instructional unit in American government or a similar subject or through district or school-level awards.

Vote Heath and Zalis for PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees

All members of the PSRS/PEERS retirement systems should have received a ballot in the mail this week. This ballot contains instructions on how to vote for representation on the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees. Ballots can be submitted by mail, online or by phone. The deadline to vote online and by phone is May 13 at 5pm. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before May 13.

MSTA has endorsed two current board members: Yvonne Heath and Aaron Zalis.

Yvonne Heath was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2008. She’s had eight years as a trustee to gain invaluable experience to work for you as a member of the retirement system.

Yvonne has been a special educator for 16 years at Republic R-III School District. Prior to that, she was a special education paraprofessional in the Ash Grove R-IV School District for 7 years. Her unique experience of having been a member of both PSRS and PEERS gives her the ability to relate to the issues faced by members in both systems.

Dr. Aaron Zalis is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Zalis has been with Rolla Public Schools since 1994, spending the last 6 years as superintendent. He also served the Rolla School district as Director of Human Resources, Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources and Support Services and Assistant Principal of Rolla Middle School. As chair of the board, he uses his leadership experience and knowledge of school finance to serve all members of the retirement systems.

Both Yvonne and Aaron have proven records of serving you as a member of the PSRS/PEERS systems. They need your support to continue to advocate for you and your future. Please vote for Aaron Zalis and Yvonne Heath.

Career and Technical Education bill sent to governor

A bill that makes changes to career and technical education has been approved by the General Assembly and sent to the governor.

SB620 (Romine) requires the State Board of Education and Career and Technical Education Advisory Council to establish the minimum requirement for a career and technical education certificate (CTE) that a student can earn in addition to a high school diploma. Students entering high school in the 2017-18 school year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.

Each local school district shall determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the needs and interests of the students in the district, and no later than Jan. 1, 2017, the DESE shall develop a process for recognition of a school district’s CTE certificate program.

This act modifies the composition of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council. Instead of the governor, the Commissioner of Education will appoint the council’s 11 members. This act also expands the Advisory Council’s membership to include two senators, one from each party, appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and two representatives, one from each party, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The four legislative members will serve on the Advisory Council until they resign, are no longer members of the General Assembly, or are replaced by new appointments.

Retirement language included in bill

When SB639 (Riddle) was debated by the House of Representatives, several provisions were added dealing with the Public School Retirement System, including language that would make permanent the 2.55 factor for working 31 or more years.

This benefit expired on July 1, 2014. If enacted, this bill would make that factor permanent going forward. It would save the PSRS approximately $7.6 million per year. The bill is seen as giving more options to teachers who want to remain in the classroom and work more than 30 years. The bill includes an emergency clause, which means if passed the bill would be in effect upon the signature of the governor and allow teachers retiring this school year to take advantage of this benefit.

The bill also includes provisions from two other PSRS bills.

HB1710 (Lair) changes the laws dealing with working after retirement. Currently, a retired teacher receiving an allowance from the Missouri Public School Retirement System can work part time for a school district covered by the retirement system and not forfeit his or her retirement allowance. The retired person can work up to 550 hours and earn up to 50 percent of the annual salary received by the person while they were teaching prior to retirement. The bill expands this provision to any individual who is employed by a third party or working as an independent contractor as a substitute teacher or other position normally requiring certification. Documentation may be required showing proof of compliance with this provision.

HB1709 (Lair) allows retired members of the Public School or Public Education Employees Retirement Systems who have elected a reduced retirement allowance to provide for survivor benefits for his or her spouse to have the retirement allowance increased to the single life annuity amount, with no survivor benefits, if the member and his or her spouse become divorced on or after Sept. 1, 2016 only if the dissolution decree provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance. Any such increase in the retirement allowance will be effective upon the receipt of an application for the increase and a certified copy of the decree of dissolution that meets the requirements.

The Senate did not approve of the changes made to the bill by the House, and sent the bill to a conference committee. The House has appointed Representatives Walker, Leara, P. Fitzwater, Colona and Anders.  The senate members are Senators Riddle, Wieland, Onder, Keavney, and Schupp. If the Conference Committee can reach an agreement on which provisions should remain in the bill, the conference committee report would need to be approved by each chamber.

Bill summaries

House

Elementary and Secondary Education

SB638 (Riddle) requires the subject of American civics to be included in the exam required for graduation from any public or private school, other than private trade schools. This bill also allows a school district to recognize a student’s participation in the Constitution Project of the Missouri Supreme Court and creates the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia. Voted out “do pass.”

SB827 (Sifton) creates the legislative task force on dyslexia, penalizes school districts that experience more than a 20 percent drop in gifted students served, and establishes the “trauma-informed initiative” and trauma-informed schools pilot program. Voted out “do pass” as amended.

HB1982 (Ellington) requires public high school students to take a world history course in order to graduate from high school.

HB2117 (Walton-Gray) allows a school district or a charter school that provides instruction in grades three through 12 to incorporate water and swim safety information into its existing physical education curriculum for students in those grades.

SB996 (Pearce) excludes funds designated by taxpayers in an urban district as local early childhood education funds from the local tax revenue calculation used to provide funding to charter schools that have declared themselves as a local educational agency, requires development of a three-year pilot program for a voluntary early learning quality assurance report and penalizes school districts that experience more than a 20 percent drop in gifted students served. Voted out “do pass” as amended.

HB2593 (Swan) excludes funds designated by taxpayers in an urban district as local early childhood education funds from the local tax revenue calculation used to provide funding to charter schools that have declared themselves as a local educational agency.

HB2790 (Swan) allows the State Board of Education to grant an initial visiting scholar certificate as a license to teach 9th grade or higher in public schools. The applicant must be employed in a content area in which the individual has an academic degree or professional experience.

HB2802 (Mathews) specifies that any public school that participates in any activity sponsored by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) must provide home school students, who reside in their attendance area, with the opportunity to participate in the activity on behalf of the public school in the same manner that the opportunity is provided to the students enrolled in the school. Voted out “do pass.”

Emerging Issues in Education

HB1498 (Walton-Gray) establishes a grant program to fund community schools in the St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and Jackson County school districts. A community school makes its facilities available to the public, identifies community needs and resources, and initiates programs to improve the cultural, social, recreational, and educational opportunities in the community. A community education program uses public buildings as community centers operated by the district in cooperation with other groups, organizations, and governmental agencies. The bill also establishes the Council for Community Education made up of 15 members appointed by the Governor.

HB1500 (Walton-Gray) allows school districts or charter schools that provide instruction for grades 7-12 to incorporate studies of the criminal justice system into the curriculum. If a school district or charter school chooses to include criminal justice education in their curriculum, the instruction must include an emphasis on career opportunities in law enforcement. School districts or charter schools may seek input on criminal justice curriculum from local law enforcement organizations.

Senate

Education

HB1451 (Wood) makes changes to charter school sponsor contracts, application and renewal process, admission, and financial obligations.

HB1610 (Swan) currently public high schools may, in cooperation with public community colleges and public or private four-year colleges and universities, offer postsecondary course options to high school students. This bill broadens community colleges to two-year colleges. Voted out “do pass.”

HB2186 (Ross) allows a school district to develop a policy allowing student participation in the Constitution Project of the Missouri Supreme Court to be recognized through credit for a portion of, or in collaboration with, the community service or citizenship requirements of the A+ Tuition Reimbursement Program, the Missouri and United States Constitution course, or any relevant course or instructional unit in American government or a similar subject or through district or school-level awards. Voted out “do pass.”

HB2379 (Swan) establishes the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, requires each public school to screen students for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times, requires the school board of each district and governing board of each charter school to provide reasonable support for teachers and students.

HB1546 (Lauer) allows any licensed educator to annually complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for State Board of Education certification and requires each district to adopt a policy to address strategies that can help identify students who are at possible risk of suicide, strategies and protocols for helping students at possible risk of suicide, and protocols for responding to a suicide death for youth suicide awareness and prevention, including the training and education of district employees. Voted out “do pass”.

HB1583 (Allen) changes the laws regarding bullying in schools and establishes specific components that a district must include in its anti-bullying policy. Voted out “do pass” as substituted.

HB1709 (Lair) allows retired members of the Public School or Public Education Employees Retirement Systems who have elected a reduced retirement allowance to provide for survivor benefits for his or her spouse to have the retirement allowance increased to the single life annuity amount, with no survivor benefits, if the member and his or her spouse become divorced on or after September 1, 2016 only if the dissolution decree provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance. Voted out “do pass.”