Support Melinda Moss and Darren Farmer in PSRS/PEERS election 

Voting is currently underway in the important election for new Board of Trustee members for the Public School & Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri.  Missouri’s largest public education associations are supporting Darren Farmer and Melinda Moss in their campaigns. Both Darren Farmer and Melinda Moss are recommended candidates by the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri NEA, the Missouri Association of School Administrators, Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, and the Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education.  Your vote is important to ensure that teachers and women continue to have a voice on the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees. 

Online and telephone ballots must be received by May 8. Paper ballots must be postmarked by May 8. 

To vote online, secure your PIN from the materials mailed from PSRS/PEERS and visit https://vote.yeselections.com/PSRS-PEERS, enter the election code and Voting PIN from your ballot and follow the on-screen instructions. 

System members may also vote by telephone by dialing 855443-5889, follow the automated instructions and when prompted enter the election code and voting pin. 

Members who prefer to mail in their ballot instead may still detach the ballot portion of the PSRS mailing and fill in the circle of their choices, fold and detach the ballot on the perforated lines and place the postcard in the mail. No postage is required to return the ballot. Paper ballots must be postmarked by May 8, 2020. 

Are you still waiting on your PSRS/PEERS ballot?

For those members who have not received their ballot by April 30, 2020, members will need to contact the Systems directly to get a new ballot mailed or emailed to them directly. Due to PSRS/PEERS protections and confidentiality on member information, members will have to provide personally identifiable information to the PSRS/PEERS system to get a new ballot.  

If you have not received your ballot, please call PSRS/PEERS at 800-392-6848 or 573-634-5290 to request a new ballot.   

Legislature continues work on the budget

The Missouri legislature returned to session this week and immediately worked to meet the constitutional deadline for passing a state budget. They face a May 8 constitutional deadline, a tight turnaround as lawmakers have been off work for weeks over concerns about spreading COVID-19. 

The budget passed by the House includes $700 million in cuts to Gov. Mike Parson’s original $30 billion budget plan, which the governor crafted based on rosier revenue projections before the coronavirus hit the state.  Most of the cuts that were approved, about $454 million, would be to new government programs and would not impact existing services. But another $146 million would be stripped from core agency budgets. 

 HB2002 (Smith) includes full funding for the foundation formula but does include a $7 million cut to school transportation. Any new spending items that were being considered in the education budget were not funded. 

The budget includes the authority to spend billions of dollars in federal funding on public schools, colleges and other government agencies. But it is unclear exactly when, and how much, federal dollars Missouri will ultimately get over the next year to fight COVID-19 and restart the economy. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee worked on the budget early Friday morning, closing out the majority of the items in HB2002. While they have not taken final votes on the bill, they gave initial approval to fully fund the foundation formula. The Appropriations Committee also approved a fund switch from federal COVID-19 relief monies to add the $7 million back into transportation funding. The committee will still need to give the bills a formal vote, then send the bills to the full Senate where they will be debated early next week. This will give time for any differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget to be worked out in a Conference Committee and have the Conference Committee report approved by both chambers in order to meet the constitutional deadline of Friday, May 8. 

State board gets status update on schools

Education Commissioner Dr. Margie Vandeven and the leadership team at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education gave an update to the State Board of Education on what has taken place with schools and students as well as possible future scenarios in the coming weeks and months since schools have been shut down. 

Some of the bigger takeaways from the update include local district budget uncertainties, technology access for students, summer school and start date for opening of schools in the fall. 

Local districts will be receiving additional funding through Title I.  Local districts will submit an application to DESE for any expenses related to the pandemic that they have occurred starting  on March 13.  Local districts will have limited flexibility for these funds.  While the funds are distributed through Title I, expenses occurred do not have to limited to Title I students/buildings. Local district budgets may still be affected by additional state budget withholds.  The latest withhold from the state was for $7.1 million from student transportation.  The economic picture from the state is uncertain, so there is no way to know if there will be any additional withholds of state money. 

The state board discussed the issue of access to technology for all students. This issue is twofold. The first is access to devices and the second is access to highspeed internet.  Districts are doing what they can to get devices into the hands of students.  DESE conducted a survey of districts and charter schools that showed for 450 of the state’s 555 school districts and charter schoolsabout 21 percent of Missouri students – or 150,000 of them – do not have access to broadband internet and cannot afford the technology.  

There is also a concern about difficulties in getting students involved since the coronavirus threat closed schools statewide in mid-March. On a statewide basis, teachers have reportedly lost contact with around 17 percent of the students.  It is not known if this is because of technology shortfalls or other reasons. 

Finally, the SBOE discussed if schools should be allowed to start earlier than originally planned.  Starting with the 2020-21 school year, districts are not allowed to start school any earlier than 14 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September, unless the State Board of Education waives the requirement. The SBOE is concerned about the length of time away from school for students, especially students who struggle the most. There is also a concern that school would be shut down again in the fall due to another outbreak of COVID-19, but if schools were allowed to start earlier, they would be in a better position to finish out the school year if there were interruptions. The SBOE will make a final decision on this issue during their meeting on May 12. 

 House Committee creates massive education bill

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee met and heard SB528 (Cunningham) which would take any funds that were appropriated by the legislature in excess of the amount to fully fund the foundation formula to be shifted to pay for K-12 student transportation. This two-page bill was approved after being drastically expanded in the House committee to include language from over 20 bills creating a massive education omnibus bill that includes not only K-12 legislation, but also bills relating to higher education.  Many of the bills that are included have not been debated by either the full Senate or the full House.  This substitute includes legislation from many different committees, bills that were not given public hearings, and legislation that has never been in front of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. Included in the bill are harmful provisions that would change charter school funding, and a massive expansion of private virtual education paid for by Missouri taxpayers. 

While the committee adopted amendments and incorporated them into a working committee substitute, the full language of the new bill is still not available. The bill will now be sent to the House Rules-Administrative Oversight Committee, then if approved it would be sent to the full House to be considered.  It is unknown at this time the fiscal impact of the House Committee Substitute to both the state and local school districts.  

Two provisions that MSTA opposes relate to changing charter school funding and changes to virtual education that would be both wasteful and expensive. The Kansas City Public School District has been working to find solutions on the procedures in which the charter schools in their district are paid and have been working with charter advocates to find a solution. The language in the bill is a step backward in the hard work from both stakeholders. Both St. Louis and Kansas City Public School Districts oppose the bill and believe it will hurt the students in their district.   

In 2018, public school advocates worked with the legislature to craft changes to virtual education in Missouri.  Now two years later, the legislature is again plowing forward to change a program that has not yet delivered reliable data in order to understand the utilization, effectiveness and outcomes for students across the state. The changes to the course access and virtual school program are wasteful and expensive, erode local control and support for students, and could lead to the creation of virtual charter schools that would not be accountable to locally elected school boards or the State Board of Education. 

Currently, public school districts with students enrolled in virtual education under the course access and virtual school program are not required to pay more than necessary market costs for those courses and may not pay more than the State Adequacy Target.  This keeps the costs of these programs under control. The changes in the bill would force the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to pay the virtual provider the full average daily attendance for the student’s district of residence for each full time equivalent student, creating a massive cost increase without further accountability measures. This legislation would create a windfall to private companies providing online education at the expense of Missouri’s public schools.  

Other sections of the virtual law changes include removing the requirement that students enroll in their local school districts.  Teachers, counselors and administrators would be unable to help guide students’ course of study and support the students and families in their community, while still being responsible for the education of those students that return to traditional public schools.   

These provisions, along with other bills included in the substitute create a drastic change in public education.  Trying to create legislation with so many moving parts in a shortened session provides little opportunity to truly understand the impact on Missouri’s students, teachers and communities.   

This bill includes the following provision: 

HB1568 (Bailey) defines “restraint” and “seclusion” and requires school districts, charter schools, or publicly contracted private providers to include in policy a prohibition on the use of restraint and seclusion, for any purpose other than situations or conditions in which there is imminent danger of physical harm to self or others. The bill provides protections for individuals that report or provide information about violations of policy under this section. The bill requires DESE to compile and maintain all incidents reported under this section in the department’s core data system and make such data available on the Missouri comprehensive data system. 

HB1540 (Basye) prevents school districts and charter schools from prohibiting a parent or guardian from audio recording any meeting held under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or a Section 504 plan meeting. 

HB1317 (Sommer) mandates school districts to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3 percent or more of the students are determined to be gifted. Districts with average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education. Any teacher providing gifted instruction without a gifted-teaching certificate must participate in six hours per year of professional development regarding gifted services. 

HB2544 (Pike) currently, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will reimburse school districts for the costs of special education for high-needs children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance as calculated on the district annual secretary of the board report for the year in which the expenditures are claimed. This bill states that any money reimbursed to a school district, with 500 or less students, is excluded from such calculation. 

HB1817 (Dinkins) prevents money received into the Iron County School Fund from the payment of penalty under the specified administrative order issued by the Department of Natural Resources to be included in the Iron County School calculation for local effort. 

HB1818 (Dinkins) modifies the definition of “local effort” with regards to school funding, by removing fines from the calculation, beginning fiscal year July 1, 2021. 

HB1561 (Baringer) allows public school students to possess and apply topical sunscreen products, if supplied by the student or his or her parent or guardian, on school property or at a school-related event or activity. A public school shall not require a prescription or note from a health care professional in order for a student to possess or apply any sunscreen approved by the Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter use. 

HB2435 (Swan) increases the number of times a visiting scholar certificate can be renewed from two times to four times and removes the requirement that a scholar must be part of a business education partnership initiative. 

HB1483 (Rehder) requires criminal background checks to be conducted on any person who is 18 years of age or older, who is not counted by the district for purposes of average daily attendance, and who requests enrollment in a course that takes place on school property during regular school hours. A person shall be prohibited from enrolling in such a course if he or she has plead guilty to, or been convicted of, any crime or offense which would currently prevent the issuance of a teaching certificate. The background check shall be conducted before the person enrolls in the course 

HB2479 (Ruth) allows substitute teachers to disseminate fingerprint information to up to five school districts with one application. 

HB1903 (Shields) allows a school district that enters into an agreement with another district to share a superintendent to receive an additional $30,000 per year in state aid for up to five years. The bill directs districts to spend the additional compensation and half of the savings from sharing a superintendent on teacher salaries or counseling services. 

HB1820 &1470 (Kelley) requires that beginning in the 2021-22 school year, each school district must offer at least two hours of suicide prevention training for all practicing teachers. All teachers, principals, and licensed educators must attend such a training or complete training on suicide prevention through selfreview of suicide prevention materials. 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. This bill also requires public schools, charter schools, and public institutions of higher education that issue pupil identification cards to have printed on the card specific phone numbers including those for the National Suicide Prevention and the Crisis Text Line. 

HB2038 (Patterson) establishes the Workforce Diploma Program which allows citizens to complete coursework to complete credits to complete their high school degree.  Companies may apply for a license to operate a new institution that would offer certificates and credits to adults toward earning a high school diploma.  These companies are paid based on completion of credits 

HB1774 (Baker) requires the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development to annually collect and compile information to help high school students make informed decisions about their futures to ensure they are aware of the costs of four-year college and alternative career paths.  It also requires that a student’s parent or legal guardian verify that the document has been read prior to applying to the institution. 

HB2518 (Bailey) requires public institutions of higher learning to adopt and implement policies that will give undergraduate course credit to entering freshman students for each advanced placement (AP) examination upon which such student achieves a score of three or higher. The Coordinating Board for Higher Education will consult with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to identify correlations between subject matter and content in courses and examinations in the AP program, and shall make that information public on the board’s website. 

HB1262 (Bangert) requires school districts to provide instruction in cursive writing by the end of the fifth grade, including a proficiency test of competency in reading and writing cursive.  

HB2273 (Deaton) school districts shall not receive funding under the foundation formula if such district develops a policy, or is a member of, or remits any funds to, any statewide activities association that prohibits a home school student or full-time equivalent virtual school student from participating in any event or activity offered by the school district, or requires a home school student or full-time equivalent virtual school student to attend the public school for any portion of a school day in order to participate in any event or activity. This provision shall not apply if a specific class is required for the participation and is directly related to the participation in an association activity, or in a club, extracurricular activity, or sport. DESE is required to withhold payments to districts in violation of this act until such district proves to the State Board of Education that the school district has ceased membership in the organization. This act further provides that a statewide activities association shall not prohibit or restrict any school district that is a member of the association from participating in any events authorized or regulated by the association with any school that is not a member of the association. 

HB1868 (Swan) requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Career and Technical Advisory Council, to develop a statewide plan establishing the minimum requirements for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Certificate. The statewide plan will match workforce needs with appropriate educational resources. Each local school district shall determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the requirements of the statewide plan. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is required to convene work groups from each CTE program area to develop written model curriculum frameworks that may be used by districts. 

HB1664 (Richey) defines “local aid” to include all local and county revenue received by the school district and charter schools within the school district. The bill requires charter schools and each school district to include an annual independent audit to verify pupil residency. The bill requires school districts to pay for each pupil attending a charter school in that district based on the formula established in the bill which includes all state aid and local aid received by the school district divided by the total weighted average daily attendance of the school district and all charter schools within the school district. School districts must calculate the amount of local aid owed to a charter school monthly and make timely payments to the charter school as outlined in the bill. DESE shall conduct an annual review of payments from school districts with measures for over and underpayment as outlined in the bill. This bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2021 and replaces the current funding mechanism for charter schools which will no longer apply after June 30, 2021.  

SB996 (Onder) Under current law, for purposes of calculation and distribution of state school aid, all students enrolled in the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program shall be included in the student enrollment of the school district in which the student physically is enrolled. 

Under this bill, full-time equivalent students shall not be included in the student enrollment of the school district in which such student resides. DESE shall pay any Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program an amount equal to the average daily attendance for the student’s district of residence. A virtual school program serving full-time equivalent students shall be considered an attendance center as defined in current law. 

Current law requires a school district or charter school to allow any eligible student who resides in such district to enroll in Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program courses if, prior to enrolling in any such course, a student has received approval from his or her school district or charter school. This act repeals the provision requiring a student to receive approval from his or her school district. If the school district or charter school believes a student’s request to enroll in a virtual program is not in the best educational interest of the student, the reason shall be provided in writing to the student’s parent or guardian, who shall have final decision-making authority. 

The department, rather than each school district or charter school, shall adopt a policy that delineates the process by which a student may enroll in courses provided by the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. 

Current law requires costs associated with such virtual courses to be paid by the school district or charter school directly on a pro rata monthly basis based on a student’s completion of assignments and assessments. Under this act, costs shall be paid by the school district or charter school, or by the department for full-time equivalent students, to the provider on a pro rata basis once per semester based on a student’s completion of assignments and assessments. 

Current law also requires the department to monitor student success and engagement and report such information to the school district or charter school. Under this act, the department shall report such information to the parent or guardian of the student, who may withdraw the student at any time if the course is not meeting the educational needs of the student. This act also repeals the provision setting forth the responsibility of school districts and charter school to monitor full-time student progress and success. 

Virtual school providers are required, under this act, to monitor student progress and success, and may remove a student from the program if the provider believes it to be in the best educational interest of the student. 

A full-time virtual school shall, under this act, submit a notification to a parent or legal guardian of a student who is not consistently engaged in instructional activities, as defined in the act. Such school shall also develop a policy setting forth the consequences for a student’s failure to attend school and complete instructional activities, including disenrollment from the virtual school. 

School districts or charter schools are required, under current law, to inform parents of their child’s right to participate in the virtual schools program. Under this act, any school district or charter school that fails to notify parents of their child’s right to participate in the program shall be subject to civil penalties in an amount equal to $100 for each day such school district or charter school is in violation of this requirement, including reasonable attorney’s fees. 

HB2151(Swan) allows Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) to have authority to develop a statewide mission in visual and performing arts, computer science, and cybersecurity. 

Senate Education Committee holds hearing 

The Senate Education Committee heard several bills relating to K-12 education and is scheduled to hold a hearing on Monday to vote out a massive omnibus education bill similar to the bill put together in the House.  It is believed that some of the harmful provisions that have been included in the substitute for SB582 will be included in the Senate’s version.  The Senate will spend much of next week working on crafting the budget but could get to other non-budget items later in the week or in the final week of session.  It is very possible that MSTA will active MSTA Rapid Response to advocate against this harmful legislation that puts further stress and pressure on a public education system that has increased uncertainty with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

HB1317 (Sommer) prevents any public school district or charter school from prohibiting a parent or guardian from recording any meeting held under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)or a Section 504 plan meeting (Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Districts may not require parents to provide more than 24 hours’ notice in order to record said meeting, and no school district employee acting in good faith shall face discharge or discriminations for reporting retaliation, discrimination, or violations of IDEA or Section 504 as a result of these recordings. This bill mandates school districts and charter schools to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3 percent or more of the students are determined to be gifted by July 1, 2022. By July 1, 2022, districts and charter schools with average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education, any teacher providing gifted instruction without a gifted-teaching certificate must participate in six hours per year of professional development regarding gifted services. 

HB1568 (Basye) prevents any public school districts and charter schools from prohibiting a parent or guardian from audio recording any meeting held under the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)or a Section 504 plan meeting (Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973). Districts or charter schools may not require parents to provide more than 24 hours notice in order to record said meeting, and no school district employee who reports a violation under this section shall be subject to discharge, retaliation, or any other adverse employment action for reportingThis bill mandates school districts and charter schools to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3% or more of the students are determined to be gifted by July 1, 2022. By July 1, 2022, districts and charter schools with average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education, any teacher providing gifted instruction without a gifted-teaching certificate must participate in six hours per year of professional development regarding gifted services (Section 162.720). 

Currently, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will reimburse school districts for the costs of special education for high-needs children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance as calculated on the district annual secretary of the board report for the year in which the expenditures are claimed. This bill states that any money reimbursed to a school district, with 500 or less students, is excluded from such calculation. 

This bill specifies that a school district shall submit the cost of serving any high-needs student with an IEP to DESE. 

HB1817 (Dinkins) prevents money received into the Iron County School Fund from the payment of penalty under the specified administrative order issued by the Department of Natural Resources to be included in the Iron County School calculation for local effort. 

HB1818 (Dinkins) modifies the definition of “local effort” with regards to school funding, by removing fines from the calculation, beginning fiscal year July 1, 2021. 

HB1903 (Shields) allows a school district that enters into an agreement with another district to share a superintendent to receive an additional $30,000 per year in state aid for up to five years. The bill directs districts to spend the additional compensation and half of the savings from sharing a superintendent on teacher salaries or counseling services. 

SB582 (Arthur) school districts and charter schools shall receive state school funding under the foundation formula for high school students who are taking competency-based courses offered by their school district or charter school.