The First Regular Session of the 100th General Assembly began at noon on Jan. 9, 2019. The previous year in Missouri politics has resulted in many new faces from the governor’s office to newly elected members of the legislature. In June, Gov. Eric Greitens resigned from office. In Missouri, the lieutenant governor assumes the office of governor in the event of a vacancy in the office, to serve the remainder of the term. Lt. Gov. Mike Parson is now the 57th governor of Missouri. Other vacancies in statewide elected offices are appointed by the governor to serve until the completion of their term. Upon taking office, Parson appointed former State Senator Mike Kehoe to the lieutenant governor’s office. Attorney General Josh Hawley won election to become one of Missouri’s U.S. Senators, creating a vacancy in the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Parson then appointed sitting State Treasurer Eric Schmitt to serve as the State Attorney General, creating a vacancy in the State Treasurer’s office. Parson appointed State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick from Shell Knob to serve as treasurer. Fitzpatrick had previously served as the chairman of the House Budget Committee. The recent election brought in a large freshman class of legislators both in the House and Senate, many with strong backgrounds in education.
The House elected leadership, including new Speaker Elijah Haahr of Springfield. Rep. Rob Vescovo will continue to serve as Majority Floor Leader. With the departure of Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, Rep. Cody Smith of Carthage has been selected to chair the House Budget Committee. Rep. Crystal Quade of Springfield will serve as the Minority Floor Leader. In his address to the House, Speaker Haahr committed to continuing to fully fund the foundation formula, to challenge and support students and to ensure every student receives a quality education.
The Senate also elected new leadership. Sen. Dave Schatz was elected to serve as the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Sen. Caleb Rowden was elected as Majority Floor Leader, and Sen. Gina Walsh was elected Minority Floor Leader. In an address to the Senate, President Pro Tem Schatz also committed to funding for public education.
Gov. Mike Parson will deliver the annual State of the State Address on Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. It is believed that he will outline his priorities for the session and present his executive budget proposal.
As the State Board of Education held their January meeting this week, it marked the return of Margie Vandeven as Commissioner of Education. The state board approved the hiring of Vandeven in November with her returning to the role of commissioner in January. Vandeven initially became Missouri’s sixth Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on Jan. 1, 2015, and served in that position for nearly three years before being forced out by a state board that was filled with appointments made by former governor Eric Greitens. Those appointments were never approved by the Missouri Senate. Once Greitens resigned, new appointments were made by Gov. Parson, and approved by the Missouri Senate. Those appointments include:
Kimberly Bailey, Raymore, a licensed mental health professional and trauma specialist, she previously served as the president of the Raymore-Peculiar R-2 school board.
Donald Claycomb, Linn, a former educator, retired as president of the State Technical College of Missouri in June 2016.
Carol Hallquist, Kansas City, founder of PrincipalsConnect, a nonprofit that matches retired business professional volunteers with urban school principals.
Also appointed, but waiting Senate confirmation is Peter Herschend, Branson, who is founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment which owns Silver Dollar City and other entertainment properties. Herschend is a longtime member of the State Board of Education. There remain two open seats on the State Board of Education, a vacant seat to represent the 8th Congressional District and a non-voting teacher representative from the 1st Congressional District.
Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik gave the board an update on teacher workforce in Missouri.
The findings of the report included information regarding teacher preparation programs, issues regarding teacher retention and teacher pay. The report outlined enrollment in teacher prep programs in Missouri.
Enrollment in teacher prep programs in Missouri showed a slight increase this year after years of decline. Missouri now ranks 49th in the U.S. in average starting teacher salary; only Montana has a lower starting teacher salary. The report outlined data that showed that teachers leave the profession for a number of reasons including family situations, lack of administrative support, low salaries and challenging work conditions. The demand for teachers will continue to increase due to expanding student enrollment and attrition rates that are higher than many other professions. Teacher shortages exist throughout Missouri, both geographically and in many content areas. The board discussed these trends and efforts the department can make to help districts continue to recruit and retain highly qualified educators.
MSTA Capitol Visits
Missouri’s 100th General Assembly convened on Jan. 9 and will work until adjournment on May 17. MSTA members, from students to retired members, have the opportunity to meet with their regions and legislators at the Capitol in Jefferson City during Capitol Visits.
2019 MSTA legislative priorities
Based off of the MSTA Adopted Resolutions, the Education Policy Committee drafts the MSTA legislative priorities. These priorities are then used by MSTA Government Relations staff to advocate on behalf of members, and presented to key decision makers during the legislative session.