State budget includes increases for K-12 education

The conference committee made up of members of both the House and Senate completed work on the nearly $30 billion state budget that goes into effect on July 1. Those compromised positions were then approved by both the House and Senate. The 13 bills that make up the state budget will now go to the governor for his approval or veto. The governor also has the discretion to make line item vetoes or restrictions within the budget bills

HB2 (Smith) which funds K-12 schools and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education saw some major increases. The largest increase passed by the legislature was a $61 million increase to fully fund the school foundation formula. The budget also includes a $5 million increase for school transportation costs.

Other increases include:

  • $3 million for Parents as Teachers
  • $400,000 for K-3 reading assessment
  • $300,000 for school safety training grants
  • $319,000 for pre-school quality assurance
  • $450,000 for computer science professional development
  • $150,000 for Missouri Scholars and Fine Arts Academies
  • $150,000 for dyslexia training
  • $400,000 for first-time takers of the HiSET exam

Joint Committee on Education hears update on computer science standards

This week the Joint Committee on Education met for the annual end of the legislative session meeting. Included on the agenda was an update for a bill that was passed last year dealing with computer science courses. 

The committee learned that DESE established a workgroup to develop standards for computer science courses. The committee presented its preliminary draft of the standards to the State Board of Education in February. Since then, DESE has solicitated comments on the draft standards and will present a final/updated set of standards for final approval at the May meeting of the State Board of Education.

The committee also heard how DESE has updated the graduation handbook to allow for a computer science credit to take the place of a credit for math or science and have that count toward graduation.  DESE has also developed a sample communication to share with students and parents that some colleges that require four credits of math as an entrance requirement may not allow the computer science credit to take the place of a math credit.

Finally DESE has finalized requirements for teachers to be certified to teach computer science and is in the process of awarding grants for computer science professional development for teachers.

The Joint Committee also elected Rep. Dean Dohrman as chair and Sen. Gary Romine as the vice chair for the next year.

Missouri Commissioner’s Education Policy Committee

In partnership with the Hunt Institute, the Education Commission of the States, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Commissioner Dr. Margie Vandeven created the Missouri Commissioner’s Education Policy Committee.  The committee is chaired by former State Senator David Pearce.  There are currently over 30 members on the committee, including Dr. Vandeven, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and three members of the State Board of Education. Other members include representatives of the business community, members of the state legislature as well as school principals and administrators.  Currently the only classroom educator on the committee is the 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year. 

The committee recently had their first meeting and discussed workforce development and tomorrow’s economy, building the workforce through early childhood education, and teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention. A brief overview was given to the group and then participants were broken into smaller workgroups.

The committee will meet again in mid-Missouri on June 19 to discuss access and rethinking schools, data systems, and redesigning accountability systems. The Hunt Institute and Education Commission of the States will draft a final report with the recommendations of the committee to be presented the Missouri State Board of Education. MSTA will continue to attend the committee’s meetings in order to ensure Missouri’s educators have a voice at the table.

Education bills still in limbo going into last week

As the legislative session enters the final week, there are many education-related bills that the legislature could pick up and pass before the constitutional deadline of 6 p.m., Friday May 17.  Bills passed with changes in the second chamber must be agreed to by the chamber of origin or sent to a committee to work out the differences then approved by both bodies.

Senate bills on House calendar

SB206 (Arthur) under current law, any school district authorizing the construction of facilities that may cost more than $15,000 must advertise in a newspaper and comply with certain bidding requirements, the underlying bill increases that amount to $25,000. 

A committee substitute was drafted on the bill and several amendments were added, including language relating to energy cost savings contracts, and student data privacy.

Senate bills in House Rules Committee

SB218 (Hoskins) was passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee as a large education omnibus bill. The underlying bill creates two pilot programs for elementary schools: one relating to mental and emotional health education, and the other relating to agricultural education.

Language from several bills was included in a bill that now encompasses many education topics, including limiting schools from starting any earlier than 14 days prior to the first Monday in September beginning in the 2020-2021 school year.

The bill included two provisions relating to charter schools. One specifies that if a political subdivision offers any of its property for sale, lease, or rent, the political subdivision shall not refuse to sell, lease, or rent the property to a charter school solely because the charter school intends to use the property for an educational purpose, however the political subdivision is not required to sell, lease, or rent the property to a charter school. The other change was to charter school admission requirements. If capacity at a charter school is insufficient to enroll all pupils who submit a timely application, a charter school may give preference for admission to students who will be eligible for the free and reduced-price lunch program in the upcoming year.

Other programs created in the bill include requiring DESE to create accreditation standards for special school districts to reflect the educational needs of students served by such districts and appropriately measure the performance of students, and the creation of the school turnaround act to assist schools in need of intervention and allowing school districts to contract with municipalities to provide transportation services to high school children.

The bill modifies current programs, including removing the sunset on Bryce’s law and shifting the previously unused program from DESE to the State Treasurer’s office, changes to reading intervention requirements and changes to gifted education requirements.

House bills on the Senate Calendar

HB604 (Henderson) establishes the school turnaround act, which requires DESE to establish school turnaround programs to assist public and charter schools in need of intervention. The bill was brought up and discussed, with amendments added to it regarding expansion of the A+ program for use in dual enrollment, restricting the school start date and a fix for legislation passed last year addressing financial institution taxes. After debate on the Senate floor, the bill was placed back on the calendar where it could again come up for discussion before the end of session.

HB161 (Knight) no school district may set its opening date any earlier than 14 days prior to the first Monday in September.  In the Senate Committee, an amendment was added that would allow for snow day forgiveness for the current school year. MSTA opposes HB161.  MSTA adopted resolutions supporting a school calendar being made by a local school board with input from teachers and other school employees.

HB267 (Baker) allows a school district to offer an elective social studies unit on the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament of the Bible, or the New Testament of the Bible. The course will include the contents, history, literary style and structure, and influences on society. No requirement shall be made by the district on the text translation students must use. The bill requires that any course offered must follow applicable laws maintaining religious neutrality, and shall not endorse, favor, promote, or show hostility to any particular religion, nonreligious faith or religious perspective.

HB169 (Gannon) establishes a statewide internet and social media awareness program to increase awareness of appropriate online behavior and skills among students in public schools. DESE is required to consult with the Career and Technical Advisory Council in order to develop materials to be used by public schools for the instruction of online behavior. The council shall evaluate the effectiveness of the materials each school year and shall provide such evaluation to the department.

Bills in conference

SB17 (Romine) The underlying bill has already been truly agreed and finally passed (HB77 R. Black) and relates to work after retirement changes for retirees working for Missouri community colleges. Under current law, any person retired from the Public School Retirement System of Missouri (PSRS) may be employed by an employer included in the retirement system in a position that does not normally require a Missouri teacher certification. Such a person may earn up to 60% of the statutory minimum teacher salary without a discontinuance of the person’s retirement allowance. If any such person is employed in excess of the limitations, the person shall not be eligible to receive the person’s retirement allowance for any month during which the person is employed.

The underlying language of the bill exempts any person retired and currently receiving a retirement allowance from PSRS employed by a public community college.

Other language added to the bill in the house includes HB723 (Pike) which would allow a retired member of the Public School or Public Education Employees Retirement System who has 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 became divorced prior to Sept. 1, 2017 or if they get a modified dissolution decree that provides for sole retention by the retired person of all rights in the retirement allowance after
Sept. 1, 2017.

The House added several other amendments to the bill, including language that affects the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System and modifications to employer eligibility for MOSERS for the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the Environmental Improvement Energy Resource Authority. The House and Senate have both named conferees to work out the differences between the chambers before they submit a conference report that must be approved by both legislative chambers before it can be sent to the governor.

In addition to the language contained in these bills, there is always the possibility that amendments may be added to bills, including language from bills that have not progressed on their own this session.  In the last week of session, MSTA lobbyists will continue to work with the legislature to advocate for MSTA members, students, and Missouri communities.



Education Committee

HB456 (Neely) creates a STEM diploma endorsement for high school students who demonstrate mastery in the STEM disciplines. The bill defines a granting local education provider as a school district or charter school that chooses to grant a STEM diploma endorsement to a student who demonstrates mastery in the STEM disciplines and adds the STEM definition to law. This bill also establishes a work group to be composed of 10 members appointed by the governor and outlined in the bill. The work group will recommend coursework standards for a STEM endorsement and annually, each granting local education provider will provide the endorsement requirements to each student and parent or guardian.

HB112 (Sommer) requires school districts to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3% or more of the students are determined to be gifted. Districts with average daily attendance of 350 or fewer students are not required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education, but any teacher providing gifted instruction without a gifted-teaching certificate must participate in six hours per year of professional development regarding gifted services.

Executive Session

HB462 (Shields) creates teacher externships and allows the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt requirements for teacher externships along with an equivalency schedule to allow externship hours to be considered for increases similar to graduate-level coursework on the salary schedule for districts before July 1, 2020. Voted do pass.

HB281 (Kelley) Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, this bill allows a district to use an alternative instruction plan approved by DESE for up to 36 hours due to inclement weather. Voted do pass.

HB739 (Miller) adds school personnel, contractors, and volunteers that establish relationships through a school or school activity to the definition of those responsible for the care, custody, and control of a child for certain sections of statutes relating to child abuse as outlined in the bill. The legislation requires full disclosure between school districts about a former employee when requested, specifically regarding any confirmed violation of a board policy related to abusive behavior toward a student. The bill increases the training hours for initial school board members from 16 to 18 hours and 30 minutes, and further requires that the training include two hours and 30 minutes of sexual harassment training. Returning board members must take at least one hour of training annually. The bill defines “screened volunteer” and requires a criminal background check to be conducted on any screened volunteer before they are left alone with a student or have access to student records. This bill defines “sexual harassment” and requires that schools provide age-appropriate sexual harassment training to students in grades six and up. The training will be developed by DESE. Voted do pass.