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The week at a glance

  • The legislature will be on spring break next week. This typically marks the halfway point for session. There will be no MSTA Action.
  • Gov. Greitens signed an executive order to institute a paid parental leave policy for executive department state employees. This order will grant extended paid leave for new parents.
  • Both the Senate and the House worked on a long list of non-controversial “consent” bills. The Senate debated, but has not yet passed “paycheck protection,” HB251, that currently includes extensive reporting requirements for local CTAs.

HCS/HB634 Charter school expansion narrowly passes Missouri house

HCS/HB634 (Roeber) was debated and passed in the House. MSTA members sent thousands of emails advocating local control and clear accountability to address the current charter school law. There were several changes made to the bill, including parts of protections MSTA has advocated for, but clear problems still exist in the current language. There are still provisions in the bill that fail to address true local control and protections for all public school students. An amendment making sweeping changes to the bill was unveiled just a few hours prior to the vote.

HCS/HB634 would now include statewide expansion of charter schools in any school district in which at least one school building has received a score of 60 percent or less on its annual performance report (APR) for two of the three most recent annual performance reports. When a charter school is allowed to open, the charter school must submit the proposed charter to the local school board before the charter school submits a proposed charter to any other sponsor. The local school board would then have 60 days to consider the charter and accept or decline the sponsorship. If the local school board declines to sponsor the charter school or does not respond within the specified time, any other authorized sponsor may enter into a sponsorship agreement. This right of first refusal would still allow a charter school to open over the objections of the locally elected school board, leaving a clear conflict regarding the local control of public schools.

New charter schools must give enrollment preference to resident students who reside in the attendance area of the school building with an APR of 60 percent or less. This added provision lacks any enforcement mechanism, if an elementary school building has an APR of 60 percent or less, there is no requirement that the charter school be an elementary school, a high school could open even if only high performing high schools currently exist in the district. Open enrollment of nonresident students for charter schools was also included. New language would also allow for the creation of a virtual charter school that could enroll students from across the state of Missouri.

HCS/HB634 also allows charter schools to be operated in any school district not served by a high-quality career technical center, sponsored only by the local school board, to establish a career and technical center whose mission will focus on helping students earn career and technical education certificates in addition to their high school graduation diplomas. A high-quality career technical center is a center that has met the performance targets for the Perkins Core Indicators of Performance for the secondary level for the most recent school year. Such charter schools may enroll nonresident pupils who are residents of a district that is in the same county in which the charter school is located, and nonresident pupils who are residents of an adjacent county to the county where the charter school is located.

One concern that was partially addressed by the House would require members of charter school boards to be Missouri residents, but there is no requirement that those board members spending taxpayer dollars be residents of the district where the charter school operates.

Additionally, language was added that would require charter schools to meet all state and federal requirements and the same academic performance standards required of public school districts. These provisions, while well intended, are very broad and lack specific accountability measures.

The bill now includes a provision that will not allow expansion until the foundation formula is fully funded.

MSTA will work with members of the Senate to address the issues that still exist in the current charter law as well as new concerns in the House-passed version.

HB634 Vote

House budget proposal includes fully funding the formula

This week House Budget Chair Scott Fitzpatrick unveiled a House Committee Substitute for HB2, which funds public schools and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The bill now includes an additional $45 million dollars to fully fund the foundation formula. The bill also includes an additional $36 million to fund student transportation. This money would restore the transportation level to what was appropriated in the current school year.

The bill includes a cut of $1.8 million to performance based testing. This cut could be used to eliminate the ACT testing or delay the implementation of new assessments that are being developed at the state level for the Missouri Learning Standards.

The bill also includes moving $500,000 from Parents as Teachers to a line item that is for Parents as Teachers in provisionally and unaccredited school districts.

This version of the bill will now be debated by the full House Budget Committee, where changes could be made before moving forward to be debated by the entire House.

After the House passes its budget, the Senate begins work on its budget proposal. Once passed by the Senate, the differences between the House version and the Senate version must be worked out before finally being approved and sent to the governor. The budget must be approved by May 5.

House approves non-controversial bills

This week the House of Representatives approved a number of “consent” bills. These bills are deemed to be non-controversial and will not incur further costs to the state. Consent bills cannot be amended on the floor and only require one vote before being sent to the Senate.

Here are the education-related consent bills the House passed:

HB248 (T. Fitzwater) requires the Department of Economic Development to establish a statewide, online program for middle schools designed to promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

HB253 (Swan) requires the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council to annually review, update, approve and recommend a list of industry certifications, state-issued professional licenses and occupational competency assessments. A school district may use the list as a resource in establishing programs of study that meet their regional workforce needs. This bill also modifies the composition of the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council by adding the director of the Department of Economic Development, or his or her designee.

HB599 (Hansen) modifies the A+ Schools Program by removing the requirement that the student’s attendance of a public high school in the state be the three years immediately prior to graduation.

HB304 (Pike) allows retired members of the Public School or Public Education Employees Retirement Systems who have elected a reduced retirement allowance to provide for survivor benefits for his or her spouse to have the retirement allowance increased to the single life annuity amount, with no survivor benefits, if the member and his or her spouse become divorced on or after Sept. 1, 2017 only if the dissolution decree provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance.

HB631 (Redmon) Currently, school bus drivers provide an annual statement from a medical examiner certifying that they can safely operate a school bus. This bill extends the time period to not longer than two years if a medical examiner approved by the Department of Transportation agree to issue such certification instead of a one-year certification statement.

The House also gave first-round approval to the following bills. They will need one more final vote before moving on to the Senate:

HB469 (Gannon) provides a high school equivalency certificate applicant with the opportunity of voluntarily submitting his or her contact information for the purposes of evaluating college and career placement rates of certificate applicants. This bill, subject to appropriations, will also require the DESE to subsidize the examination fee for first-time exam takers. Added to the bill during the debate were provisions included in HB257 (Pfautsch) that require each school district to establish an acceleration policy for any student meeting specified requirements.

HB680 (T. Fitzwater) establishes three adult high schools to be operated by a Missouri nonprofit organization. An “adult high school” is for students who are at least 21 years old without a high school diploma. The school needs to offer industry certification programs that include a high school diploma and provide on-site child care.

Virtual education bill approved by Senate committee

The Senate Education Committee gave approval to SB327 (Romine). The bill renames the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to The Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program and allows any eligible student to enroll in program courses of his or her choice to be paid by the school district or charter school, if the student has been enrolled full time in a public school, including a public charter school, for at least one semester immediately prior to enrolling in the program, and the course is approved by the school principal.

A school district or charter school shall pay 14 percent of the state adequacy target for any single, year-long course and no more than 7 percent of the state adequacy target for any single, semester-long course. School districts and charter schools may negotiate with the course providers for a lower cost. Payment for a full-time virtual school student shall not exceed the state adequacy target. If a student who is a candidate for A+ tuition reimbursement enrolls in a course under the act, the school shall attribute no less than 95 percent attendance to any such student who has completed such course. Individual learning plans shall be developed for all students enrolled in more than two full-time program courses. DESE shall establish an authorization process for course providers and authorize those providers that submit all necessary information and offer courses that align to state academic standards.

SB327 also requires the State Board of Education to provide an easily accessible link for course vendors on the program website, allow anyone to submit courses for approval, and requires vendors to accept monthly payments for students enrolled in their courses. Courses already approved through MOVIP shall automatically be authorized to participate in the program.

The House has already passed HB138 (Spencer) that includes many of the same provisions.