The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee voted HCS/HB2247 (Roeber) do pass by a vote of 7-6. This bill allows for expansion of charter schools to districts across the state and allows for open enrollment in those schools. A charter school would be able to operate in any school district in which at least one school that has received an annual performance report score of 60 percent or less for two of the three most recent reports. A charter school that opens in such a district must offer grade levels consistent with the grade levels offered by the attendance center which received the APR scores that allowed the charter school to open. The charter school would also be allowed to expand into other grade levels as well. The new charter school must give preference to pupils who reside in the attendance area of the school with APR scores that allowed the charter school to open. The charter school would be allowed to continue to operate regardless of future improvements of the school or district.
This bill establishes a performance standard that compares charter schools to certain selected students in the school district in which the charter school is located. MSTA believes that charter school student populations should be representative of the overall district population, a provision not included in this legislation.
HCS/HB2247 requires all members of the governing board of a charter school to be Missouri income or property taxpayers, except that members serving as of August 28, 2018 may serve the remainder of their terms regardless of this requirement. There is currently no requirement that those board members reside in the district in which the charter school operates.
MSTA remains opposed to this legislation, as charter school expansion without local community input and oversight of locally elected school boards lacks accountability from all members of a community.
HB2188 (Matthiesen) establishes the “Show Me Opportunity Scholarship Program”. This bill would create a new $50 million tax credit education voucher program. The tax credit funds could be used for tuition in any school, homeschool, school organization or club, or virtual education program. These funds could also be used for summer education programs, after-school programs, transportation, course-related expenses, tutoring, therapies, and technological devices or software that is used to meet a student’s educational needs.
The tax credit would be nonrefundable and nontransferable, but could be carried forward for one year. This program would be run by non-governmental nonprofit agencies.
This bill gives broad power to the State Treasurer. The treasurer would be responsible to evaluate, certify, and publish a list of all qualified nonprofits, and have the power to ban a nonprofit from participating if it has failed to comply with the program requirements.
A qualified nonprofit must meet certain requirements including being a 501(c)(3) organization and must notify the State Treasurer of its intent to provide scholarship accounts. The nonprofit is responsible for ensuring that the scholarships are used for qualifying expenses. The scholarship payments could be made in installments or in one lump sum payment. HB2188 would allow educational organizations to contract with private financial management firms with the supervision of the state. These nonprofits would also be able to keep up to 10 percent of the revenues from contributions toward the tax credit.
The eligibility of students that would be able to receive the voucher is not currently outlined in the legislation, but the voucher could not exceed $8,000 per student annually. MSTA testified in opposition.
SB794 (Romine) requires the governor to inform the Missouri Senate, in writing, of any appointments to state boards or commissions made while the General Assembly is not in session. No appointee would be sworn in until such notification has been made. After appointment and notification, the governor is prohibited from withdrawing or rescinding the appointment, except in the case of charges of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.
This bill would also modify provisions relating to the State Board of Education. At no time could more than two members of the board be classified as “independent.” SB794 also requires that each board member shall be sworn in during open session of the board, and the oath of office shall be administered by the president or vice president of the board. In order to establish a quorum, five members who have received the advice and consent of the Senate shall be present. No official actions may be taken unless a majority of the board, all of whom have received the advice and consent of the Senate, vote.
The act repeals a provision authorizing the governor to make a temporary appointment to the board if a vacancy arises while the General Assembly is not in session.
If at any time a quorum of the board has not received the advice and consent of the Senate, the State Treasurer shall distribute all necessary appropriations to ensure school district payments pursuant to state and federal law.
MSTA testified in support of this bill. It is important that there is clarity in the appointment process and that the actions of the governor are transparent. MSTA members work hard to collaborate with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the recent actions regarding the State Board of Education appointees raises serious questions regarding the checks and balances of coequal branches of government.
SB695 (Wallingford), an MSTA priority, was passed out of the Senate Education Committee. SB695 requires the governor to appoint a teacher representative to the State Board of Education. The teacher representative would 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 representative must be an active classroom teacher and have written support of his or her local school board. The teacher representative would serve a four-year term. 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.
HB1261 (Schroer) requires all state and local licensing boards or entities to waive any fees charged to obtain or renew occupational licenses for military families, low-income individuals, and individuals between the ages of 18 and 25. MSTA testified in support of this legislation because students in teacher preparation programs often face fees that can exceed $500 before beginning their teaching career. This legislation would also address financial barriers for college students and individuals looking at filling desperately needed substitute teaching positions across the state.
House Elementary and Secondary Education
HB2200 (Rhoads) makes several changes to law affecting public schools. The bill requires members of the governing boards of charter schools to meet the legal requirements to be an elected member of the school board in the school district in which the charter school is located. Charter schools must be accredited by the State Board of Education using the same standards applicable to school districts. Beginning on January 1, 2020, new charter schools and charter schools seeking renewal of their charters must be sponsored solely by the elected school board of the school district in which the charter school is located.
This bill would authorize “schools of innovation.” A school of innovation could be established by a locally elected school board and could exist within schools that currently operate. School districts could seek waivers from certain state laws, and rules and regulations with approval from the State Board of Education. If appropriated by the legislature, 10 competitive grants would be awarded by the governor to districts that have schools of innovation. To be eligible for reimbursement of tuition and fees for community college or vocational or technical school, students must have attended a high school in the state for two years, instead of the three years immediately prior to graduation required by current law.
HB2200 would also require reimbursement of eligible students for the cost of tuition and fees for any dual credit or dual enrollment course offered in a high school in association with a public community college or vocational or technical school, and changes laws regarding virtual courses.
Changes are also included that would add a category for granting certificates to teach on the basis of specialized knowledge and experience in a discrete subject area for which the certificate is issued. This bill authorizes school districts and charter schools to grant proficiency-based credit for a high-school course to an enrolled student who demonstrates proficiency in the subject area, regardless of whether the student enrolled in or completed the course. MSTA testified for information purposes. MSTA supports provisions of the bill that add accountability and local control for charter schools but has strong concerns regarding sections that include changes to teacher due process and allowing DESE to issue teaching certificates to individuals that have not demonstrated proficiency in academic and professional teaching skills.
SB924 (Rowden) provides that the State Board of Education may grant an initial visiting scholars certificate as a license to teach in public schools. 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 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 for which the applicant’s degree or professional experience qualifies him or her. The certificate lasts for one year, and the applicant may renew the certificate up to two times if certain requirements are met, as described in the bill.
SB587 (Sifton) is an omnibus education bill covering a large number of issues. The bill addresses Missouri State Board of Education intervention powers, allows districts to contract for early childhood education programs, and allows for school calendar changes. This bill also modifies Missouri’s transfer law for unaccredited school districts, including language for the transfer process, transportation, and collection of transfer and transient student data.
SB582 (Walsh) provides that in the event of a breach of data 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. Voted Do Pass.
SCS/SB603, 576 & 898 (Onder) changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to “The Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program” and allows students to enroll in program courses paid by the school district or charter school. The student must have been enrolled full time in a public school or a public charter school for at least one semester immediately prior to enrolling in the program and the course must be approved by the student’s school district or charter school.
The substitute includes a provision that places a cap on the cost of the programs, but school districts and charter schools may negotiate with the course providers for a lower cost. Individual learning plans shall be developed for all students enrolled in more than two full-time program courses. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will establish an authorization process for course providers and authorize providers that submit all necessary information and offer courses that align to state academic standards, and provide continuous monitoring of course providers and courses. The department will have the authority to revoke, suspend, or take other corrective action if a provider or individual course no longer meets the requirements of the program. Courses already approved through MOVIP shall automatically be authorized to participate in the program. Voted Do Pass.
SB695 (Wallingford) Requires the governor to appoint a teacher representative to the State Board of Education. Voted Do Pass.
SB743 (Sater) Authorizes the treasurer of a seven-director school district to use one or more sureties when entering into a bond to the state. Voted Do Pass.
Senate Economic Development Committee
SB894 (Libla) requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a high school graduation policy that allows a student to fulfill one unit of academic credit with a district-approved computer science course for any math, science, or practical arts unit required for high school graduation. The State Board would be required to convene a work group to develop and recommend academic performance standards relating to computer science. The standards would be adopted and implemented beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The bill would also allow the State Board to develop a special endorsement for teachers with specialized computer science knowledge. A “computer science fund” is also created to take donations or appropriations to award grants for professional development. MSTA testified in support.
SB921 (Rizzo) substantially similar to SB894. MSTA testified in support.