The Senate went late into the night debating SB292 (Eigel), a bill that would expand charter schools across Missouri. The bill has gone through several different versions, but MSTA’s greatest concerns have still not been addressed in the bill. Sen. Romine and Sen. Libla led a filibuster on the bill, with help from Sens. Hough, Arthur, Rizzo and Schupp. During debate an amendment was offered that would have required a public vote before charter schools could open in a community, but the amendment was defeated. More than 40% of charter schools that have opened in the state of Missouri have closed their doors due to either performance or financial issues while still attracting students to attend the failing schools. These closures have contributing to greater student mobility in the Kansas City and St. Louis public school districts that is detrimental to Missouri student achievement. Over $700 million in Missouri taxpayer monies have gone to failed charter schools. SB292 would be a massive expansion of public education that is not accountable to local citizens and Missouri taxpayers during a time when the state is underfunding K-12 transportation and struggling to fully fund the foundation formula. After over 10 hours of debate, the bill was placed back on the Senate calendar, but could be brought up for consideration soon.
MSTA encourages members to contact their elected officials to oppose SB292, a bill that would expand the charter school model without oversight and authorization from locally elected school boards.
The House passed several bills this week and sent them to the Senate for consideration.
HB604 (Henderson) known as the School Turnaround Act, will identify struggling schools and ensure assistance is available from a company experienced in helping schools. The bill also establishes a way for the state to pay these companies.
The bill states the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall use an outcome-based measure to set criteria for the designation of schools in need of intervention and specifies a time line for the initial remedial year. The bill also specifies that before Aug. 30, 2020, DESE must identify two or more approved independent school turnaround experts of which schools in need of intervention may partner. If a school is identified as needing interventions, it may contract with an independent school turnaround expert (individual or company). Payment for that assistance will come from a state fund established in the bill. Funding would be at the discretion of the legislature. A school in need of intervention that does not meet the exit criteria within three school years may petition the department for an extension to continue school improvement efforts for up to two years.
HB462 (Shields) provides a definition for “teacher externship” and requires the Department of Economic Development and DESE adopt requirements for teacher externships along with an equivalency schedule to allow externship hours to be considered for increases similar to graduate-level coursework on the salary schedule for districts before July 1, 2020.
HCS/HB456 (Neely) creates a STEM diploma endorsement for high school students who demonstrate mastery in the STEM disciplines. The bill defines a “granting local education provider” as a school district or charter school that chooses to grant a STEM diploma endorsement to a student who demonstrates mastery.
This bill establishes a work group that will recommend coursework standards for a STEM endorsement and each granting local education provider shall provide the endorsement requirements to each student and parent or guardian.
HB723 (Pike) allows a retired member of the Public School or Public Education Employees Retirement System who has 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 became divorced prior to Sept. 1, 2017 or if they get a modified dissolution decree that provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance after Sept. 1, 2017.
HB485 (Dogan) requires that the State Board of Education shall adopt modified accreditation standards for special school districts (SSD) to reflect the educational needs of SSD students by July 1, 2020.
While the uncertainty of the state budget for the current fiscal year is still unfolding, a report issued by State Auditor Nicole Galloway shows how the changes to payroll withholding tax tables have led to much of the uncertainty.
Missouri adjusted its withholding tables for the federal tax cut passed in late 2017 after the IRS issued new federal withholding tables in January 2018. The new Missouri tables were issued in March, and employers implemented them in April and May. Employees saw more take-home pay, but the effect was felt by the state in May and June as individual income tax receipts fell unexpectedly.
This prompted yet another change to the tax withholding tables in October to reduce the impact the under-withholding was having on state revenues. The changes could result in the state paying about $232 million less in tax refunds this year, according to the audit. Because thousands of Missourians had less money than expected withheld from their paychecks, when they file taxes for the year, they could owe more money to the state or see a reduced refund amount while their overall tax burden is lowered.
Then in January, for the third time in just over a year, the tax withholding tables were changed again. The audit found that this change to the withholding tax tables could result in $62.9 million more being withheld from paychecks than was withheld in 2018. The changes will affect 53% of Missourians, all with incomes of less than $125,000, Galloway said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
“It is very clear that they are over-withholding from Missourians,” she said. “If the goal is to have the income tax tables correct so they are evenly paying the amount they should over a period of time every paycheck, then these tables would not be correct,” Galloway said. “Because they are purposely over withholding.”
The effect on the state budget is one where revenues would be increased, but when people file their taxes for 2019, they would pay less, or receive a larger refund that would reduce revenue available to balance the state budget.
As of Monday, fiscal year 2019 state revenues sit $266.1 million below the same point in fiscal year 2018. In order to meet budget projections, revenues need to grow by 1.7 % over the previous year.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, chair of the Missouri School Safety Task Force, recently announced a tentative schedule to hear public testimony and gain insight and information on the strengths, weaknesses, gaps, challenges, best practices, and resources to address several school safety focus areas. Gov. Mike Parson established the Missouri School Safety Task Force to look at incidents of school violence and seek ways to keep Missouri schools safe.
The task force is comprised of the following members:
- The director of the Department of Public Safety
- The commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- The director of the Department of Mental Health
- A representative from the Missouri School Boards’ Association
- A representative from the Center for Education Safety
- A school resource officer
Additionally, the lieutenant governor’s office released guidance for public testimony at each of the planned meetings. Public testimony will be limited to five minutes.
The task force will initially focus on:
- Effective communication and information sharing
- Mental health/behavioral risk
- School climate & school culture
- Emergency operations plans
- Physical security/technology & safety assessments/audits
- Training & drills
- SRO/safety coordinator programs
- Access to grants and funding opportunities for school safety
- Legal – statutory constraints on school safety
- Cyber security & risk
MSTA will present testimony, but members are encouraged to attend and tell their personal stories regarding classroom safety issues.
Task Force Public Schedule
April 11 – Kirksville, 3:30 p.m.
Kirksville R-2 Central Office Board Room, 1901 East Hamilton St., Kirksville
April 18 – St. Louis
April 25 – Springfield
May 2 – Kansas City
May 9 – Poplar Bluff
May 16 – Jefferson City
Meeting schedule is subject to change up to 24 hours in advance.
Meeting locations will be updated closer to meeting dates.
The Missouri Senate approved the appointment of Mary Sheid of West Plains to the State Board of Education. She is the owner/CEO of Physical Therapy Specialists, Inc, starting the clinic in 1990. She has served on a variety of professional boards and community organizations, including the Missouri State University Board of Governors and serves as project director for SOARHigh, an intervention program that looks to address regional factors that adversely affect student health. A graduate of the University of Missouri, she holds a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy as well as a second bachelor’s degree from Drury College.
Elementary and Secondary Education
HB976 (Swan) modifies who may apply to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a Visiting Scholars Certificate, by allowing applicants with a Masters or Doctoral Degree the opportunity if a minimum of 18 graduate level hours are in the subject being taught, the certificate may only be issued for one year, and renewed a maximum of two times.
HB836 (Rehder) requires criminal background checks to be conducted on any person who is 18 years of age or older who is not counted by the district for purposes of average daily attendance and requests enrollment in a course that takes place on school property during regular school hours. The background check will be conducted before the person enrolls in any course.
HB957 (Pike) Currently, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will reimburse school districts for the costs of special education for high-needs children with an individualized education program exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance as calculated on the district annual secretary of the board report for the year in which the expenditures are claimed. Under the bill, any money reimbursed to a school district under current law is excluded from such calculation. This bill specifies that a school district shall submit the cost of serving any high-needs student with an IEP to DESE.
HCS/HB1024 (Dogan) requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a work group to develop and recommend rigorous academic performance standards relating to workforce development for students in grades one through 12. The work group must consist of nine members appointed by the Governor and all meetings for the work group will be open to the public to provide testimony. The bill requires the work group to develop alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and employability skills curriculum. These standards and curriculum will be presented to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly, which may adopt or request modifications. The work group will dissolve one year after any requested modifications are made. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
HB1010 (Ross) authorizes the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a pilot program to provide for agricultural education in elementary schools in the state beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The purpose of the program is to determine how to implement an elementary agricultural education program statewide. The bill states that DESE will select a minimum of one public elementary school from each of the 16 geographic areas across the state. The local school board for each elementary school selected to be in the pilot program must agree to implement and fully fund an elementary agricultural education program for a period of at least 3 years. The curriculum for this program will be established through a collaboration of DESE and local school districts. A program evaluation regarding the success and impact of the pilot program must be provided by DESE, and they will report the results of the evaluation to the relevant House and Senate committees on agriculture and education. Voted do pass.
HCS/HB1139 (Baker) prohibits the local prosecuting attorney from reviewing home school records without reasonable suspicion of a violation of law. A public school must keep confidential any individually identifiable information about children receiving home school education and parents of such children. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
HB364&299 (Kelley) would allow Missouri teachers to deduct up to $500 of unreimbursed expenses outlined in the bill. These expenses would include costs incurred as a result of participation in professional development courses as well as books, supplies, computer equipment and other supplementary materials used by the teacher in the classroom. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
Special Committee on Student Accountability
HB534 (Swan) creates the School-Community Partnership Fund to finance grants to public and charter schools for the purpose of leveraging community resources to increase student success. The fund is financed by money that may be appropriated by the General Assembly and by any voluntary contributions from other sources. The fund may only be used to administer grants to schools. The bill also authorizes schools to create school-community partnerships pursuant to plans submitted to and approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The State Board of Education shall award grants from the School-Community Partnership Fund to schools that achieve the measurable outcomes described in their school-community partnership plans. Schools without an approved partnership plan are not eligible for grants. The bill also requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to revise its scoring guide under the Missouri School Improvement Program to provide additional points to schools that achieve the measurable outcomes described in their school-community partnership plans.
Voted do pass.
SB475 (Cunningham) beginning January 1, 2020, any school district that receives revenue from the income tax on banking institutions, credit institutions, credit unions and savings and loan associations shall report the amount of such revenue received by the district to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Using such data, the Department shall determine the amount of revenue the district would have received from the taxes, and remit said amount to each applicable district within 30 days of the end of each calendar year. The amount remitted to the district shall be the total of the revenue received by the district from the tax, times 1.5625, minus the total of the revenue received from the tax. Such payments shall be in addition to payments made under the foundation formula.