State Board of Education refiles expansion of substitute teachers rule
In August 2020, the State Board of Education proposed an administrative rule and an emergency rule to create an alternative route for individuals to obtain a substitute certificate of license to teach. This new path was proposed to expand the available number of substitute teachers as districts across the state have experienced a shortage of substitutes that has only been made worse during the COVID19 pandemic.
The emergency rule took effect on September 2 but expired in February, those who have obtained a substitute certificate through the alternative pathway are able to continue to hold the certificate until it expires.
The state board initially withdrew the rule in November after receiving comments of concern regarding expanding the available pool of substitutes. MSTA supported the rule, and MSTA members adopted a Resolution at the Assembly of Delegates supporting greater availability of substitutes.
The resubmitted proposed change would allow for two pathways to obtain a substitute certificate. The current path requires the successful completion of sixty semester hours or more of college level credit. The proposed alternative pathway that was available under the emergency rule that has since expired and is once again going through the rulemaking process would allow an individual who has a high school diploma or equivalent and has 20 clock hours of DESE approved substitute teacher training that includes professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth. If the rule is formally adopted after going through the rulemaking process, both options would be available to individuals. As with any potential substitute teacher, the hiring district retains the right to decide which individuals they hire.
MSTA Adopted Resolutions support innovative strategies to recruit and certificate substitute teachers, provided that applicants complete a robust program that prepares candidates to deliver instruction to students and includes all health and safety screening required of school staff.
The rule will now go through the formal rulemaking process which takes months before it will go into effect. MSTA members will have the opportunity to submit comments regarding the change once the comment period opens.
HB608 (E. Lewis), which has been heard and voted out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, would place a similar program to what DESE has proposed into state law. The bill is not currently on the House calendar for future debate. The language from HB608 has also been incorporated as an amendment to HB439 (Davidson).
MSTA testifies against open enrollment bill in Senate hearing
HB543 (Pollitt) would allow open enrollment of students in Missouri public schools. The legislation would dramatically change Missouri’s public school enrollment policies by allowing students beginning in kindergarten to grade 12 to attend a school in a nonresident district.
MSTA testified in opposition to HB543. MSTA Adopted Resolutions support each local school district developing a written policy for transfer and assignment of students within a district and to any other school district.
HB543 creates a parent public school choice fund that would reimburse parents for the costs of transportation of the student enrolled in a nonresident district and reimburse districts for certain special education costs. The reimbursement rate for transportation costs would be calculated by the round-trip distance from the residence of the parent or guardian to the nearest nonresident districts bus stop location and calculated at 37 cents per mile. This fund would be created with a one-time $30 million appropriation from the General Assembly.
In states where open enrollment has existed, including Iowa, there has been a trend toward consolidation of rural schools. The sponsor of the legislation admitted during debate that school consolidation is a possible outcome from this new program.
School districts would not be required to accept nonresident students into the program but would not have the ability to limit students leaving the resident district after the first two years. In the first two years, districts may limit the transfers to a maximum of 5%of the previous school year’s enrollment for the district. The bill outlines the time frame for students to enroll in a nonresident district. Districts that accept transfer students are not required to provide special education services for children who do not resident in the school district if they determine that the school is unable to provide appropriate special education services. If a nonresident student receives special education services at the transfer school, the nonresident school will receive reimbursement from the parent public school choice fund for the costs of the special educational services for a student with an IEP, if such funds are available.
Districts that participate in open enrollment may limit the number of students that they allow to transfer into the district by adopting a policy that outlines the standards for acceptance and rejection of transfer applications, including building capacity and class-size limitations. The program would begin in the 2022-23 school year.
House moves education legislation
The pace in which legislation is brought before the House of Representatives has dramatically increased with only four weeks remaining in the legislative session. This week the House gave approval to several bills related to education. Not all of these bills will make it across the finish line, but many of the provisions included in these bills could be included in other legislation or offered as amendments.
HB253 (Fishel) requires the Springfield Public School District to be divided into five subdistricts for the election of school board members. The five subdistricts shall be nearly equal in population as practical. There would also be two at large districts. After each decennial census the subdistricts must be reapportioned. Added to the bill is a provision that allows for any seven-director school district or an urban district to be divided into subdistricts and provides for the process for the election of subdistrict board members. The bill includes an initiative petition process in which 10% of voters who voted in the previous school board election may request the subdistrict issue to be placed on the ballot. Subdistricts must be of contiguous and compact territory and as nearly equal in population as practical. And finally, a provision was added that allows any person who owns residential or agricultural real property in any school district and pays a school tax in that district for the two most recent tax years to send children to that district, upon notification to the district at least 30 days prior to enrollment. The district would then count that child for the district’s average daily attendance.
The House also gave approval to HB320 (Fitzwater) that modifies the definition of “computer science course” to include both a stand-alone computer course in the elementary, middle, and high school levels or any course that embeds computer science content within other subjects. The bill will require public schools and charter schools in all school years after July 1, 2022 to offer at least one computer science course in high school, instruction in exploratory computer science in middle school, and the basics of computer science and computational thinking in elementary schools. The bill also requires public institutions of higher education to allow a computer science course counted toward a science or practical art state graduation credit to satisfy as an equivalent admission requirement. The bill establishes the “Computer Science Education Task Force”. The mission of the Task Force is to develop a state strategic plan for expansion of computer science education programs statewide.
Funding for charter schools was modified in HB137 (Richey) by requiring 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. The implementation of this bill is delayed for St. Louis Public schools for two years. The bill also requires that individuals serving on a governing board of a charter school not have a felony record or be on a sex offender registry. Also added to the bill is a provision that prevents money received into the Iron County School Fund from the payment of any 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. And a provision that would allow any person that owns residential or agricultural real property in any school district and pays a school tax in that district for the two most recent tax years, to send children to that district, upon notification to the district at least 30 days prior to enrollment, and the district shall count that child for the district’s average daily attendance.
HB920 (Baker) changes the election date for school board members and tax levy and bond issues from April to November.
The House also worked on but did not finalize HB439 (Davidson) that would allow school districts to issue school district-specific teaching permits for persons without a certificate of license to teach granted by the State Board of Education. The House adopted an amendment to require the State Board to ratify the district permit, so that the teacher can legally participate in the retirement system. House amendments also limit a district to using the district permit for 15% of teachers, require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree and require a participating district to establish training on classroom management and provide mentoring for the district permit teachers. MSTA is opposed to this bill as Missouri already has alterative paths to achieve a teaching certificate. MSTA supports the State Board of Education as the sole issuer of teaching certificates.
The Senate will begin their work on these provisions over the next couple of weeks.
Elementary and Secondary Education
SB86 (Hegeman) prohibits the contribution or expenditure of public funds by any school district or by any officer, employee, or agent of any school district to support or oppose the nomination or election of any candidate for public office, support or oppose the passage or defeat of any ballot measure. The bill also prohibits the use of any public funds to any committee supporting or opposing candidates or ballot measures or to pay debts or obligations of any candidate or committee previously incurred for the above purposes. The bill additionally prohibits the contribution or expenditure of public funds by any officer, employee, or agent of any political subdivision to pay debts or obligations of any candidate or committee previously incurred for the purposes described above. Any purposeful violation of this act is punishable as a class four election offense.
SB152 (Hoskins) establishes the Show Me Success Diploma Program as an alternative pathway to graduation for high school students. Students may earn the show me success diploma beginning at the end of a student's tenth grade year. The Competency-Based Education Grant Program is established in the bill. By application, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall award grants from the fund to eligible school districts for the purpose of providing competency-based education programs. The Department shall facilitate the creation, sharing, and development of course assessments, curriculum, training and guidance for teachers, and best practices for the school districts that offer competency-based education courses, and a statewide task force is created. The bill includes language from previous bills mandating gifted education in all schools. Further sections of the bill relate to training for epilepsy and seizure disorders and a fix from legislation passed last session relating to the licensure for Montessori schools.
HB421 (Proudie) requires the Board of Election Commissioners of St. Louis County to establish seven subdistricts for any school district in St. Louis County that is within, or adjoining another school district that is within, a street light maintenance district with a population less than 3,000. The subdistricts will be established for the purpose of electing school district directors. The bill specifies how the subdistrict boundaries will be drawn.
HB254 (P. Brown) requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a model policy, by January 1, 2022 relating to accommodations for breastfeeding. Public school districts must adopt a written policy by July 1, 2022. The policy must include provisions to provide accommodations to lactating employees, teachers, and students to express, or breastfeed for each public school building within the district for at least a year after the birth of a child. Accommodations must meet requirements as specified in bill and districts must provide a minimum of three opportunities during a school day to express or breast-feed. Voted do pass.
HB368 (Gregory) requires literacy and reading instruction coursework for teacher education programs in Missouri. The bill modifies reading success plans for students. School districts and charter schools would be required to offer a reading success plan to each student in grades kindergarten through four who exhibits a reading deficiency or has been identified as being at risk of or diagnosed with dyslexia. The reading success plan must include thirty hours of additional reading instruction outside the regular school day, be monitored throughout the school year with instruction adjusted according to the student’s needs and provide explicit and systematic multisensory instruction. A structured literacy reading program is required to be provided to any student who is at risk of or has a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. A literacy advisory council is created in the bill that would create a list of approved materials for school districts, but the districts retain the discretion to decide what materials and curriculum is used. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
SB515 (Gannon) currently, licensed educators may complete up to two hours of training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention to meet part of the professional development requirements for certification. Under the bill, this training or professional development would contain at least one unit relating to stress management strategies for students and faculty members. MSTA testified in support.
HB543 (Pollitt) see earlier article. MSTA testified in opposition.
HB627 (Patterson) changes the name of the "Missouri Education Savings Program" to the "Missouri Education Program". The bill provides to parents of any qualified children born or adopted after January 1, 2021 and a Missouri resident at time of birth, and at the time of grant application, a scholarship grant of $100 in a savings account. The bill establishes the "Show Me Child Development Account Program" and creates the "Missouri Children's Development Account Program Fund". The fund shall receive from the State Treasurer a portion of the interest derived from the investment of funds as outlined in the bill not to exceed .35% of the total of the average daily fund balance in the State Treasury. The Department of Health and Senior Services will notify the Treasurer's office upon certification of live birth in the state and provide relevant information as outlined. The Treasurer's office will notify parents about this program and provide opportunity for the parent to exclude any child. The bill allows the State Treasurer to receive contributions from any person or legal entity on behalf of, and make grants to, eligible children to pay for qualified higher education expenses. The Treasurer shall establish a separate savings account for each qualified child under this bill and shall deposit scholarship seed money, contributions, and interest earnings as specified. Any amount in such a savings account that is not expended for qualified higher education expenses by the qualified child's 30th birthday will revert back to the Program Fund. The Fund shall receive a portion of the interest derived from the investment of funds as outlined in the bill. Moneys in the Fund shall be used to provide scholarship seed money and to pay for personal service, equipment, and other expenses of the Treasurer related to administration.