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Charter school expansion bill has hearing

HB2247 (Roeber) was heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Just prior to the hearing, a committee substitute was distributed with several revisions. This substitute is currently scheduled to be voted out of committee on Monday night.

MSTA’s position regarding the expansion of charter schools is clear, as outlined in the 2017 Adopted Resolutions. While there were attempts made in the bill to address issues regarding expansion as the result of technical issues within districts, glaring problems still exist within the bill. When expansion occurs due to a poor performing school within a district, there are no protections in the bill that require a charter school to locate within the attendance boundaries of the school that students would first come from. The bill further allows for open enrollment across any district boundary in the state.

A charter school that would be allowed to open in a district with a school that has received a score of 60 percent or less on its annual performance report for two of the three most recent annual performance reports must offer and enroll students in grade levels consistent with the grade levels offered by the school that resulted in the ability for the charter to open. The charter school may also enroll and accept students from other grades regardless of district performance or community input.

This expansion creates a breach of the rich Missouri tradition of local control of public schools, and is not addressed in either the bill or the substitute. Currently charter school board members are not required to be Missouri residents. One change in the bill would mandate that charter board members be taxpayers where the charter is located, but there are no residency requirements contained in the bill, leaving local communities with no voice in the charter schools that could open. Locally elected school boards allow for transparency and community input into how tax dollars are spent. Local control of public schools is central to providing a quality education and allowing accountability for students, parents and all taxpayers.

MSTA testified against the bill. This expansion legislation fails to address the key framework that MSTA members have supported in MSTA Adopted Resolutions.

House sends education-related bills to Senate

This week the House gave final approval to several bills related to education. The first was HB1408 (Spencer) that deals with virtual education. This bill changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to The Missouri Course Access Program (MCAP). The bill requires school districts and charter schools to permit any K-12 student to enroll in up to two MCAP courses of his or her choice if the student has attended such district or charter school for at least one semester, the course is unavailable in the school district or charter school or there is a scheduling conflict, and the school counselor has advised the student based on the counselor’s assessment of whether enrollment in a particular course is in the student’s best interests.

The school district or charter school shall pay the costs of the courses for the student directly to the provider. Tuition is limited to the market necessary costs, and capped at 14 percent of the state adequacy target for a year-long course and 7 percent for a semester-long course.

The bill 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 under the tuition limits established by the bill.

The second bill the House passed was HB1665 (Swan) that 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 are met.

These bills now await action by the Senate.

Senate Education Committee hears bill to put teacher on SBOE

This week the Senate Education Committee heard SB695 (Wallingford) that requires the governor to appoint a teacher representative to the State Board of Education.

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 bill states that the teacher must be a resident of Missouri, certified to teach, have at least five years of teaching experience, employed full time as a teacher in the state and not on leave. The teacher must have the written support from his or her 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.

Bill Summaries:

Senate Education

SB603 (Onder) allows for various changes regarding virtual education.

SB898 (Hoskins) allows for various changes regarding virtual education.

SB576 (Romine) allows for various changes regarding virtual education.

SB582 (Walsh) provides that in the event of a breach of data maintained in an electronic form that includes personal information of a student, the school district shall notify the parent or legal guardian of the affected student. Notification of the breach shall also be sent to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Auditor.

SB695 (Wallingford) would allow a teacher representative on the State Board of Education.  MSTA testified in support.

SB743 (Sater) Current law requires the treasurer of a seven-director school district, when entering into a bond to the state, to do so with two or more sureties. This act authorizes the treasurer to use one or more sureties.