MSTA supports Dr. Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer for PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees

The PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees ensures Missouri’s education retirement systems provide a quality retirement for professionals in education and that the systems can maintain their goal of recruiting and retaining teachers and staff. The board makes decisions regarding the investments of member contributions, contribution rates for PSRS/PEERS members, and cost of living adjustments for retirees. PSRS/PEERS serves more than 276,000 public school employees and retirees and currently oversee over $45 billion in assets.

The seven-member PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees oversees the operation and administration of PSRS/PEERS. The Board is made up of one elected PEERS member, three elected PSRS members, and three governor-appointed trustees. The four elected trustees are selected by vote of the members and retirees of both systems. Two are elected each even-numbered calendar year to serve four-year terms. There are currently two PSRS/PEERS Board members that are completing their terms. Missouri State Techers Association and the Missouri Association of School Administrators have endorsed both Dr. Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer and believe they are the leaders that will protect Missouri education professional’s retirement. Both candidates have a broad range of support across education, including the Missouri NEA.

It is very important that your voice is heard in this election and that the board continues to have a balance of teachers and administrators that reflect the membership of the systems. Darren Farmer and Dr. Melinda Moss are the leaders that will ensure the retirement systems remain in a healthy financial position, will fight to maintain the retirement systems independence, and balance the needs of retired, current and future Missouri education professionals. Ballots and voting information to support Dr. Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer will be sent to system members on April 23, 2020.

Gov. Parson delivers annual State of the State address

Governor Mike Parson, Missouri’s 57th governor, addressed a joint session of the General Assembly Wednesday afternoon to give the annual State of the State speech.

“My call this legislative session is to propose initiatives aimed at building stronger communities, improving education and workforce development, revitalizing our infrastructure, and making government more accountable,” Parson said in the nearly hour-long address. “It is critical to understand that all of these issues provide individuals with more opportunities, strengthen public safety, and create healthier and more stable communities.”

While the Governor spent time in his speech talking about the problem with violent crimes in our state as well as the effort the state has made to improve infrastructure, he did spend time talking about education.

In the speech, Governor Parson recognized MSTA member Melissa Grandel, Fordland High School English teacher and the current Missouri Teacher of the Year. The governor thanked teachers for the difficult job that they do in educating the children in Missouri but did not offer a specific proposal to increase teachers’ salaries. Instead, the Governor wants “to start discussing ways to improve teacher pay.” Adding that, “the solution cannot just be asking the state to write a bigger check.” He is asking for “school districts, school boards, and DESE to propose a better plan for our teachers.”

Parson did highlight early childhood education. “The most important and impactful time of a child’s development is the early years of his or her life. Missouri recently received a $33.5 million-dollar preschool development grant aimed at creating a more effective, high-quality early learning system. With this funding, we have the opportunity to strengthen our early childhood offerings and better prepare Missouri children for success, which is crucial to the development of a strong workforce.”

The Governor added that, “In addition to early childhood education, we will also focus on increasing opportunities for high-demand training at the high school level. We need to ensure our students understand the many opportunities out there, whether it be going into the workforce, the military, a community college, technical school, or a four-year degree.”

Parson made note of the fact that 30 percent of our population has a four-year degree from a college or university and that “we need to move away from the stigma that not having a college degree is a failure, when in fact there are many other excellent education and job training opportunities.”

The budget that was proposed by the governor includes $750,000 to certify approximately 12,000 new high school students as work-ready through the Work Keys program.

Budget Proposal

As part of the State of the State, the Governor also released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

The spending plan, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, assumes 1.9% revenue growth over the current fiscal year. Parson proposed leaving $100 million on the state’s bottom line for unexpected expenses.

The budget proposal does call for an additional $10 million to fully fund the school foundation formula as well as a $10 million increase in transportation reimbursement to schools.

Other budget highlights include:

  • $11.9 million increase for Early Childhood Special Education
  • $2 million for the foundation formula to include current year attendance for early childhood education
  • $500,000 for the statewide expansion of an online learning platform
  • $200,000 increase for recruitment of teachers in urban schools
  • $10,000 for the development of high school curriculum for an online employment program
  • $295,000 to support High School Equivalency examination fees for first-time test takers
  • Elimination of $275,000 for the Scholars and Fine Arts Academies
  • Elimination of $10,000 for Character Education initiatives

DESE to revise MSIP6 to include teacher planning language

In the December 11 edition of MSTA Weekly Newsletter, members were alerted to the removal of the recommended minimum number of minutes for teacher plan time in MSIP 6. MSTA encouraged members to let their concerns be known during the public comment period.

MSTA members’ voices were heard prior to the public comment period beginning. On Friday, December 13, Dr. Chris Neale, Assistant Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reached out to MSTA Executive Director Bruce Moe with additional information and clarification regarding the change in teacher planning time in the new proposed MSIP 6 standards. As a result of educators’ concerns, DESE will be returning the language on plan time used in MSIP 5 to the Effective Teaching and Learning Standard in MSIP 6.

Another aspect of MSIP6 that was of concern to MSTA members resulted in the adoption of a new MSTA resolution at the MSTA State Convention.

MSTA resolution A-11 #1 supports the services of a certificated school counselor following the Missouri Comprehensive School Counseling Program be provided for all students on a frequent and regular basis with a student to counselor ration of no more than 250:1. MSTA is pleased to see the State Board of Education has already made changes to return the minimum recommended ratio to 250:1 and the recommended standard to 200:1 in MSIP 6.

MSIP 6 brings a focus to the internal systems within a school district, such as culture and climate. Student performance will continue to be a focus of MSIP 6 but when implemented collectively with internal systems, school districts will continue to improve, and Missouri students will benefit academically, socially, and emotionally.

MSTA will continue to work with DESE on the development of MSIP 6.

First education bills of session presented

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary education held its first hearing of the year. Three bills were heard in the committee under new chairman Rep. Chuck Basye. The first bill discussed by the committee was HB1559 (Remole). This bill would exempt private schools from being required to increase their minimum wage each year as currently required by law.

The second bill was HB1540 (Basye), the bill would prevent school districts from prohibiting parents or guardians of students to electronically record any IEP or 504 plan meeting. The recording made by the parents or guardian would be the property of the parent and would not be a public record. There is a “whistleblower” provision that outlines that any school district employee that acts in good faith and reports alleged retaliation, discrimination, or violations of IDEA or Section 504 on the part of a school employee may not be fired or otherwise discriminated against in any fashion because of a recording.

The last bill heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee was HB1568 (Bailey). This bill defines “Restraint” and “Seclusion” and requires all school districts to adopt a policy that prohibits the use of seclusion or restraint for any purpose other than to promote the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff members. The legislation also mandates that a report be generated by the school each time seclusion or restraint is used, with a copy of the report given to DESE. The school must also notify the parent or guardian of the student within 24 hours and notify the parents of their right to request a meeting to review the incident with staff and administrators. DESE must also develop recommendations for data collection and reporting regarding the use of seclusion or restraint in Missouri school districts and charter schools to present to the State Board of Education.

The House Special Committee on Career Readiness heard HB1868 (Swan), this legislation builds on the work done in previous session to support Career and Technical Education. It requires the State Board of Education to develop a statewide plan establishing the minimum requirements for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Certificate. Each local school district will determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the requirements of the statewide plan. The State Board of Education will also consult the Career and Technical Advisory Council when forming the statewide plan. MSTA testified in Support.