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The week at a glance
The legislature has begun the budget process for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The House and Senate committees heard presentations from Office of Administration acting budget director, Dan Haug, on Gov. Greitens’ proposed budget released last week. A $3 million increase in the foundation formula has been proposed, but many legislators have already expressed serious concerns about the proposed cut of $36 million in funding for school transportation.
Greitens toured the state on Monday, to sign the “right to work” labor reform bill.
Greitens also made two more appointments to his administration: the State Emergency Management Agency director and the State Fire Marshal.
The Greater Kansas City Region Capitol visit was a great success with many members spending time addressing their successes and needs with their legislators and creating important relationships.
Two important changes in the Public School Retirement System, supported by MSTA, were presented to the House Pensions Committee this week.
HB304 (Pike) 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, 2017 only if the dissolution decree provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance. Currently, a retired member has 90 days from the date of the remarriage to nominate a successor beneficiary, this bill changes the deadline to one year. 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.
Currently, a retired teacher receiving an allowance from the Missouri PSRS 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. HB305 (Pike) 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.
The proposed changes place further burdens on using payroll deduction and create additional reporting requirements for CTAs.
HB251 (Taylor) prohibits payroll deductions from the earnings of a public employee, including public school employees, for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid by public employee members of a public labor organization without annual authorization. MSTA is not a labor union, but has been included in the definition of “public labor organization” by this bill. A public labor organization is prohibited from using or obtaining any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or any other fees paid by members to make political campaign contributions or expenditures unless it obtains a written or electronic authorization from the member within the previous 12 months. This bill further requires public labor organizations to maintain overly burdensome financial records, for no less than five years. Each report must be made available to employees in a searchable electronic format. There are concerns that these reporting requirements would affect local CTAs. If a public labor organization fails to make the reports available to an employee, that employee will have a cause of action against the organization. MSTA opposes this effort to restrict employee payroll deductions, and will continue to advocate for MSTA members as it goes to the senate for further debate.
A vote was scheduled to take place on HB634 (Roeber) regarding the statewide expansion of charter schools, but was delayed. MSTA testified against HB634. The bill currently lacks accountability or input from local students, families or communities regarding expansion. In Missouri, charter schools are limited to the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts, unaccredited school districts, school districts that have been classified as provisionally accredited and has received scores on its annual performance report consistent with the classification of provisionally accredited or unaccredited for three consecutive school years and any school district in which a board of education wishes to sponsor the charter school.
MSTA’s resolutions support charter schools that are sponsored by the local school district. This allows taxpayer accountability, as elected school board members would be making decisions based on what’s best for students in the community, as opposed to what is proposed in the pending legislation: outside groups opening schools with no local control or oversight.
The currently proposed expansion of underperforming charters lacks both the local control and accountability needed to provide students the best possible public schools. Charter schools have been presented as a choice outside of traditional public schools yet their results don’t show a better choice. Since 1999, 59 charter schools have been established and began operating in Missouri. Twenty-one of those 59 charter schools have closed due to academic performance or financial issues. Over $620 million has gone to Missouri charter schools that have closed their doors.
Many current charter schools are underperforming in Missouri. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) 2016 Annual Performance Report (APR) scores show that of the 39 charter school local educational agencies, six demonstrated a score consistent with an unaccredited classification and 11 would be classified as provisionally accredited. Four charter schools did not receive an APR score because they are too new to be scored. Of the 39 charter schools, 18 (46 percent) would have a score consistent with being fully accredited for the 2015-16 school year. These scores are only guides because the State Board of Education does not have the authority to classify charter schools.
When state taxpayer dollars are already being stretched thin with further restrictions on budgets for school transportation needs, now is not the time to expand a system with serious questions about accountability and the lack of local community control.
The statewide expansion of this model threatens deeply rooted convictions on the local control of public schools as well as the rigorous accountability for other public schools.
During the legislative session, MSTA regions host Capitol visits for members across the state. Attendance at the first two Capitol visits was great and we look for continued participation. Involvement in the legislature by MSTA members is key to the success of our mission and follows our statement: MSTA advocates for and empowers public educators so they can teach. Visiting the Capitol to communicate face-to-face with your legislators puts a real face and name to issues when education policy is being debated. With the abundance of special interests, visitors from home have an important impact that can’t be replaced. This session, MSTA has been asking members to communicate with legislators about the successes and real stories of members doing amazing things across the state.
When you arrive at the Capitol for your visit, you will receive additional briefing materials and MSTA staff will update you on legislation, budget issues, and answer any questions during your visit.
Elementary and Secondary Education
HB97 (Swan) allows the State Board of Education to grant an initial visiting scholar 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, as described within the bill, are met.
HB324 (Neely) prohibits the school board of any school district from suspending any pupil for truancy.
HB357 (Bahr) modifies the laws relating to the ways in which school districts use monies received through the small schools grant.
HB643 (Wood) changes the calculation of full-time equivalent average daily attendance of summer school students by modifying the divisor of such calculation.
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. MSTA testified in support.
HB138 (Spencer) 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, to be paid by the school district, if the student is a public school student and the course is approved. Also, requires the State Board of Education to provide an easily accessible link for course vendors on the MCAP website, allows anyone to submit courses for approval, and requires vendors to accept monthly payments for students enrolled in their courses. Voted “Do Pass.”
HB441 (Corlew) establishes the “Cronkite New Voices Act” and defines “school sponsored media,” “student journalist,” and “student media advisor.” Provides that a student journalist has a right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media. The provisions do not apply to content that is libelous or slanderous, constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy, violates federal or state law, or creates a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of school district policy, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school. This bill does not prevent the teaching of professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists by a student media advisor. The bill requires each school district to adopt a written student freedom of expression policy which must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression. The policy may include restrictions on speech that may be defined as profane, harassing, threatening, or intimidating. The above provisions apply to public institutions of higher education as well as school districts. Voted “Do Pass.”
HB248 (T. Fitzwater) requires the Department of Economic Development to establish a statewide, online program for middle schools designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Voted “Do Pass.”
HB253 (Swan) creates the Career and Technical Education Certification (CTEC) Program. The State Board of Education must establish a procedure by which a student may receive credit toward graduation for completing a CTEC offering. The offerings include at least the following: industry certification, a state-issued professional license, an occupational competency assessment, or a CTEC exam, as described in the bill. The Career and Technical Education Advisory Council must annually approve and publish a list of such CTEC offerings. During the approval process the Council will ensure the curriculum and programs of study developed by local districts for the career and technical education certificate are compatible with the CTEC offerings. The Council will also develop an application form that may be used by the business and industry communities, local school districts, or institutions of higher education to include new CTEC offerings. This bill also modifies the composition of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council by adding the director of the Department of Economic Development, or his or her designee. Requires the Council to encourage local employers to participate in college and career fairs hosted by local school districts, and to cooperate with local school districts to ensure the curriculum for the career and technical education certificate includes programs of study and course offerings that will lead to industry-recognized certificates or credentials. Voted “Do Pass.”
SB249 (Kehoe) authorizes the Gasconade R-2 school district, which crosses county boundaries, to use the county that yields the highest dollar value modifier under the school foundation formula.