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Education omnibus bill

The Senate gave initial approval to HB1606 (Gannon), which was handled on the Senate floor by Sen. Gary Romine. The original version of this bill allowed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to subsidize the examination fee for first-time test takers of the high school equivalency test (HiSET). The two-page bill was expanded by over 50 pages in a new Senate version. Senate Substitute for HB1606 now contains language from over 15 bills that have been combined to form a new version of the bill.

Sen. Romine mostly non-controversial bills into a Senate substitute. Over the past few sessions, many of these ideas have gone through the legislative process, but never made it to the end to become law.

Parts of bills that have been added to HB1606 include:

SB582 (Walsh) specifies that school districts shall notify the parent or legal guardian of an affected student in the event of a breach of data maintained in an electronic form that includes personal information of a student. The notification must also be sent to DESE.

SB603 (Onder) further establishes and changes the virtual education program (MoVIP) to The Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. The language allows students enrolled in public schools to have the option of taking appropriate virtual courses that have been approved by DESE.

SB681 (Hummel) requires a student to receive instruction in Braille reading and writing as part of their IEP unless the IEP team determines that instruction or use of Braille is not appropriate for the student.

SB687 (Sater) allows school districts, by a majority vote of the local school board, to allocate less than 1 percent, but not less than half a percent to the professional development committee when the school district is appropriated less than 25 percent of the allowable costs of providing transportation under the foundation formula. The bill has a six-year sunset.

SB743 (Sater) When entering into a bond to the state, current law requires the treasurer of a school district to do so with two or more sureties. This language would allow the treasurer to use one or more sureties.

HB1348 (Black) specifies that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education handles career and technical student organization funds as it deems necessary.

HB1370 (Sommer) requires schools to maintain an accountability portal for the public. Schools must develop, maintain, and make available all publicly available income, expenditure, and disbursement information for the current fiscal year. The data will be updated quarterly and information must be retained for 10 years.

HB1415 (Lauer) allows students to choose between ACT WorkKeys assessment or ACT assessment and allows teachers to count hours spent in a local business externship as contact hours of professional development.

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

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

HB1573 (Rowland) allows a school district to use a calendar based on hours of attendance rather than hours and days of attendance as long as the minimum number of hours is at least 1,044 hours of actual pupil attendance.

HB1663 (Swan) allows school districts to establish academic and career counseling programs in cooperation with parents and the local community.

Also included was language that would allow schools to fill vacant early childhood education enrollment spots with another student without affecting the schools’ calculation of average daily attendance.

The substitute bill was further amended on the floor of the Senate to allow the Kansas City Public School Board to contract for transportation of high school students for extra-curricular activities. Other amendments included versions of previously filed bills.

SB709 (Schatz) changes the process by which travel hardships are granted to students in certain districts.

SB788 (Nasheed) requires course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases to contain information about sexual harassment, sexual violence, and consent.

Sen. Wallingford added MSTA priority language from SB695 (Wallingford) that would place a nonvoting teacher on the State Board of Education.

The omnibus bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate before it is sent back

to the House where they can either accept the bill with the Senate changes or send the bill to a conference to work out differences between the chambers before again being adopted by both the House and Senate.

Retirement bill passes House with work after retirement changes

An MSTA-supported change in working after retirement in the Public Education Employee Retirement System (PEERS) was added to a larger retirement bill that received approval in the House.

SB892 (Walsh) started as a bill dealing with retirement for prosecuting attorneys. In the House the bill was expanded to include provisions for other retirement systems.

A provision was added that would allow a person who is drawing a benefit from the Public School Retirement System (PSRS) to go back to work in a position in a district that is covered under the PEERS system and make up to 60 percent of the state minimum teacher’s salary, and will not contribute to the retirement system or earn creditable service. The employer’s contribution rate will be paid by the hiring district.

Currently a PSRS retiree who goes to work in a PEERS position is only allowed to work for 550 hours and make 50 percent of the pay for that position. Any retiree who exceeds that limit would not be eligible to receive their retirement allowance for any month where they are in excess of the limits.

MSTA Adopted Resolutions support a work-after-retirement limitation that is based on salary and not number of hours worked. Currently, there are retired teachers who go back to work driving a bus and end up not being able to work the entire school year because they hit the 550-hour limit. Under this proposal, a retired teacher could return to work driving a bus and work as much as they wanted as long as they did not make more than $15,000 (the current state minimum teacher’s salary is $25,000).

The Senate has requested the House to recede from their position. The bill will likely go to a conference committee where members of both the House and Senate will work out the differences between the different versions for the bill before the bill can be finally passed.

Computer science bill passes

The legislature has truly agreed and finally passed a bill that would allow course work dealing with computer science to count toward graduation credit. The bill will be sent to the governor for his consideration.

SB894 (Libla) requires that before July 1, 2019, DESE develops a high school graduation policy that allows a student to fulfill one unit of academic credit with a district-approved computer science course for any math, science, or practical arts unit required for high school graduation. The graduation policy shall require that all students have either taken all courses that require end-of-course exams or are on track to take all courses that require end-of-course exams under the Missouri School Improvement Program.

A school district must communicate to students electing to replace a mathematics unit with a computer science unit that some institutions of higher education may require four units of math for college admission. The parent of a student who chooses to take advanced computer science in place of a forth unit of math must sign and submit a document acknowledging that not taking a forth unit of math may have an adverse effect on college admission decisions.

DESE and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education are required to cooperate in developing and implementing academic performance standards relating to computer science, however, the ultimate responsibility shall remain with the State Board of Education.

Before July 1, 2019, the DESE must convene a workgroup to develop and recommend academic performance standards relating to computer science. These standards must be adopted and implemented beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The board will also develop a procedure by which any licensed teacher who demonstrates sufficient content knowledge of computer science will receive a special endorsement on their license signifying this specialized knowledge.

This act also creates the Computer Science Fund for the purpose of providing teacher professional development programs relating to computer science. The State Board will award grants from the fund to eligible entities, who have submitted an application to DESE.

Several related provisions were added by amendment that had previously passed as stand-alone bills.

HB1245 (Bangert) requires DESE to convene a task force to create a career readiness course for 8th- and 9th-grade students.

HB2255 (Korman) modifies provisions relating to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative.

HB1660 (Swan) modifies provisions relating to career and technical education. The Career and Technical Education Advisory Council will maintain an updated list of available industry certifications, state-issued professional licenses, and occupational competency assessments for use by school districts.

HB1348 (Black) specifies that DESE shall administer funds from career and technical student organizations.

Joint Committee on Education sets interim agenda

The Legislative Joint Committee on Education recently met and elected new officers. Control of the committee switches between the Senate and House each year. Sen. Gary Romine was elected to serve as the chair. Romine currently is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and has previously served as chair as well as vice-chair of the Joint Committee. Rep. Dean Dohrman was elected vice-chairman. Dohrman is vice-chairman of the House Higher Education Committee and has previously served on the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

The committee discussed several issues that will be investigated once the legislative session adjourns. The interim projects discussed and adopted for study include making Missouri a leader in information technology and coding, looking at school safety issues, and investment in Missouri’s historically black colleges and universities. The committee usually will meet several times over the summer and fall to take testimony and investigate the topics discussed at the meeting.

Due to legislative term limits, Rep. Ira Anders and Rep. Steve Cookson attended their final meeting and were recognized for their service and commitment to education in Missouri.

Visit Bunker Hill in 2019