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Bill to expand charter schools advances in House

This week the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee approved HB2247 (Roeber). This bill would allow a charter school to operate in any school district in which at least one attendance center has received an annual performance report (APR) score of 60 percent or less for two of the three most recent reports available when the charter school applies to open a school.

MSTA opposes this bill. This expansion legislation fails to address the key framework that MSTA members have supported in MSTA 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. 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.

Budget ready to be debated by House

The House Budget Committee worked late into the night to approve the proposed $28.7 billion budget before sending it to the full House.

The budget for Elementary and Secondary Education includes an additional $98 million to fully fund the foundation formula. Transportation funding would be funded with $92 million, which is $2 million more than was distributed during the current year.

Other changes made to the funding levels included the addition of $750,000 for Teach for America, $500,000 for a new K-3 reading assessment program, $250,000 for the Scholars and Fine Arts Academies, $300,000 for active shooter training and $59,713 for Early Childhood Quality Assurance Program. The House plan does make a reduction of $5.8 million to the Missouri Preschool Project. This cut represents half of the current funding. Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick made the proposed cut because of the provision of the foundation formula that allows districts to start receiving funding through the foundation formula for preschool students representing 4 percent of their students that qualify for free and reduced lunch in the district.

The other change made to the budget deals with the Missouri Charter Public School Commission The plan cuts $250,000 from the commission and includes language that requires the offices to be located within 10 miles of Jefferson City.

The bills will now be debated by the full House and if approved, will move to the Senate.

Visiting scholar bill sent to governor

The Senate gave final approval to a bill designed to expand the pool of qualified instructors for business-education career pathways programs. The bill now heads to the governor for his approval or veto.

HB1665 (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.

The applicant 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.

Congress works on school safety measures

On the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. This legislation would fund programs to help stop incidents of violence in schools and train teachers and other school staff in violence prevention. Grant money in this program could be used for things like threat assessments, crisis intervention teams, and training for school personnel for responding to mental health crises. Money could also be used for things like panic buttons, surveillance systems, and classroom entrance controls.

H.R. 4909 (Rutherford) would reauthorize the Secure Our Schools grant program and authorize $50 million in funds annually from fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2028. It would require districts to put up 25 percent in matching funds in order to be eligible for grant funds. It also includes a ban on any of the grant funds being used to train or provide school staff with firearms. The House passed the legislation by a vote of 407-10.

No MSTA Action next week

Legislators, like many teachers in school districts throughout the state, are looking forward to a spring break. The legislative spring break will take place from March 18-25.

Since there will not be any legislative action to report, MSTA Action will not be published next week. When the legislature returns, they will have a busy eight weeks to complete their work. The legislative session ends on Friday, May 18.

Bill Summaries

House Elementary and Secondary Education

HB1712 (Pfautsch) requires teacher training institutions to implement certain graduation requirements for elementary education students aimed at improving literacy in schools.

HB1847 (Kidd) specifies that a school board may vote to remove its operating levy from a certain definition related to tax increment financing for redevelopment projects.

HB2332 (Corlew) modifies advertising requirements relating to bidding on construction projects authorized by school districts.

HB2529 (Morse) modifies the definition of average daily attendance in the school foundation formula.

HB2625 (Rowland) creates new provisions relating to educational services for neglected or delinquent children.

Executive Session

HCS/HB1245 (Bangert) requires the State Board of Education to convene a work group to explore a course offering that would cover topics related to exploring various career and educational opportunities. Voted do pass with substitute.

HCS/HB1363 (Kidd) requires all teachers, principals, and licensed educators in each district to complete training on suicide prevention. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education may develop materials to be used for such training or may offer districts materials developed by a third party. Voted do pass with substitute.

HB1493 (Wood) requires school districts to recognize certain graduate and undergraduate hours as equivalent to a master’s degree on the salary schedule. Voted do pass with amendments.

HB1385 (Spencer) establishes the student accountability act that gives students with certain scores on an assessment a notation on their high school diploma. Voted do pass with amendments.

HB1664 (Swan) allows children who attend early childhood education programs that are under contracts with school districts or charter schools to be included in the average daily attendance of the district or charter school. Voted do pass.

Senate Education

HB1371 (Sommer) requires any district with a state-approved gifted education program to have a process that allows parents or guardians to appeal a determination that their child does not qualify for gifted services.

HB1415 (Lauer) allows teachers to count hours spent in externships with local businesses as professional development hours.

HB1420 (Pfautsch) extends the sunset on the early learning quality assurance report program.

HB1421 (Pfautsch) requires each school district to establish a policy on acceleration and districts with gifted education programs to establish appeal procedures.

HB1455 (Lauer) requires high schools and higher education institutions to provide information related to careers and salaries to students.

Executive Session

SB687 (Sater) allows school districts to allocate less than 1 percent, but no less than one half percent, of moneys received under the school foundation formula to the professional development committee. Voted do pass.

SB728 (Wallingford) allows children who attend early childhood education programs that are under contract with school districts or charter schools to be included in the average daily attendance of the school district or charter school. Voted do pass.

HCS/HB1606 (Gannon) provides a high school equivalency certificate applicant with the opportunity to voluntarily submit his or her contact information for the purpose of evaluating college and career placement rates of certificate applicants. The bill, subject to appropriation, will also require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to subsidize the examination fee for first-time exam takers. Voted do pass.

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