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Senate committee increases K-12 budget 

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the K-12 budget by substantially increasing the amount that was approved by the House earlier in the legislative session. 

HB3002 (C. Smith) is the budget bill that funds K-12 schools and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The largest increase made in the Senate's bill was for student transportation. The House version of the budget did not include an increase, but the Senate added $214 million to fully fund the transportation reimbursement for the first time in many years. 

When the bill was debated in the House, a provision was added to provide $37.5 million for the Career Ladder program. The Senate Committee agreed with this spending proposal, so unless the full Senate makes a change, the Career Ladder program will be funded for next school year. MSTA Adopted Resolutions and Legislative Priorities support reinstating state funding for the Career Ladder program. 

The Senate also reinstated the proposal from Governor Parson that the House had removed from the budget to boost pay for teachers making under $38,000. Governor Parson had requested $21.7 million for a matching grant program but the Senate added an additional $10 million making a total of $31.8 million available to increase starting pay for teachers. 

The Senate also added a few programs that were not in the House’s version of the budget, including $25 million for the evidenced-based reading fund to help districts improve literacy in schools and $2 million for the Competency Based Education Grant program. The Senate did not fund the Close the Gap Program that was included in the House version of the budget. This program would make direct payments to families of students in kindergarten through 12th grade to support qualifying educational enrichment activities. The bill requires that a third-party administrator run the program instead of local districts or DESE. 

The budget will now be debated and approved by the full Senate. The differences between the Senate’s version of the budget and the House’s version of the budget will be worked out in a conference committee made up of members of both chambers. The report of the conference committee will then need to be passed by both chambers. The constitutional deadline for passing the budget is May 6.  

Changes to Work after Retirement proposed in committee 

The House Pensions Committee heard a proposal to change the amount of time a retiree may work in a public school while still receiving their monthly retirement allowance. Currently, PSRS retirees who go back to work in a position that requires a teaching certificate (substitute teaching) are limited to working 550 hours and receive 50% of the pay for the position they are working to fill. 

Under the proposal in HB2787 (R. Black), a teacher would not have a limit on the number of hours worked but would be limited to making 25% of the final average salary that was used to figure their retirement benefit. For most retired teachers working as substitute teachers, this would allow them to work more days. For retirees who go back and coach in a district, it would eliminate the counting of hours and allow them to work as much as they want, only limited by the amount of money that is offered in their contract. MSTA testified in support of the bill.  

In research done by PSRS, over 95% of retirees would see an opportunity to work more days and make more money than the current 550 hours/50% limitation.   

This bill meets three goals. First, it remains cost-neutral to the PSRS system. Secondly, it expands the amount that a retiree can work as a substitute teacher. Finally, the bill would simplify the reporting necessary for a retiree who goes back to work.   

This new idea began a couple of years ago when MSTA requested the retirement system give an accountability of the impact of proposed changes to the 550/50% rule. The system actuary determined that 25% of the final average salary provision would be a way to benefit retirees and the districts that use retirees as substitute teachers. MSTA Adopted Resolutions support an earnings limit instead of a limit on the number of hours a retiree may work while receiving PSRS and PEERS retirement benefits. 

During the hearing, it was stated that more work was necessary to ensure all situations involving a district using a retiree are covered - especially when a substitute administrator is needed. It is expected that more work will be done to get this bill to a place where every retiree and district can feel comfortable that their needs are met without placing a financial burden on the PSRS system. 

Senate approves education bill for virtual open enrollment expansion and charter school funding

 The Missouri Senate gave approval to HB1552 (Richey) with sweeping changes from the version that was passed by the House. The bill was filed to address funding issues for charter schools in the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts.    

Under the foundation formula, charter schools received less per pupil than the traditional school districts where they operate. This legislation is designed to address the issue, with the difference now being made up from state funding. The Senate changed the funding mechanism in the bill and attached language that would change and expand virtual education.  

This new funding calculation would not take money away from local school districts where charters currently exist and would only apply to charter schools where they currently operate under law. It is estimated that this change would add an additional $62 million cost to the foundation formula. 

  The bill includes sections that are designed to increase accountability for charter schools. Charter schools operating outside of the locally elected school board are required to have governing board members who are residents of the state of Missouri. Charter school management companies will now be required to be nonprofit corporations. The schools must provide lactation accommodations and will be required to publish their annual performance reports on their school websites.  

  Changes to virtual education were also included in HB1552 which would modify the payment and accessibility to both part-time and full-time virtual programs, creating an open enrollment system for students to participate in virtual education and eliminating local oversight of public education.  

The bill states that full-time virtual education providers will be paid per student enrolled, based on the state adequacy target. Full-time virtual providers will be required to participate in the statewide assessment system and the academic performance of the students enrolled will be assigned to an attendance center designated for the virtual provider.  

 Decisions regarding enrollment are now placed with the virtual provider. School districts are required to notify all students of their options to enroll in virtual education. The academic performance of any student who disenrolls from a full-time virtual school program and enrolls in a public school or charter school shall not be used to determine the annual performance report score of the attendance center or school district in which the student enrolls for 12 months from the date of enrollment.  

Under current law, payment for full-time virtual school students shall not exceed the state adequacy target and schools may negotiate a lower cost directly with the course or full-time virtual providers. This legislation eliminates that provision from law.   

  HB1552 requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt a policy for students enrolling in a full-time virtual program that outlines the responsibilities of the online provider. Virtual school programs are required to monitor individual student success and engagement in addition to providing regular progress reports for each student at least four times per school year. The bill repeals a provision requiring school districts and charter schools to monitor student progress and success.  

 An education services plan may require an eligible student to have access to student facilities of the resident school district during regular school hours. The plan must provide for reimbursement of the resident school district for such access. Full-time virtual schools are required to develop a policy setting forth consequences for a student who fails to complete the required instructional activities. If a full-time virtual school disenrolls a student for failure to complete required instructional activities, the school must immediately provide written notification to the student's school district of residence.   

 Virtual school programs are required to comply with audit requirements under state law, access to public records under state law and school accountability report cards. DESE must create a guidance document that details options for virtual course access and full-time virtual course access for all students in the state on or before January 1, 2023.  

The bill will now return to the House where it will be approved with the Senate’s changes, or sent to a conference committee before a report is adopted by both legislative bodies.  

House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee expands reading intervention bill into large omnibus education bill 

When SB681 (O’Laughlin) passed the Senate, the bill related to improving reading and literacy instruction and the creation of innovation waivers for school districts. The bill repeals retention requirements for struggling readers and requires schools to provide reading instruction with appropriate evidence-based reading intervention in elementary grades, assessment and intervention beginning in kindergarten. The bill also requires systematic and explicit interventions for students with characteristics of dyslexia. 

Other requirements in the bill include: 

  • Teacher input on changes made to improve reading instruction strategies in higher education teacher preparation programs 
  • Creation of the Office of Literacy within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a plan for a comprehensive system of services for reading instruction 
  • Establishment of a statewide literacy advisory council 
  • Funding for professional development for reading instruction improvement 
  • Multiple options for district to use to improve the reading ability for struggling students 
  • Local control over reading curriculum 

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education added a large number of bills and issues including: 

  • HB2606 (Pike) designates first full week of February each year as school counseling week. 
  • HB2359 (Basye) adds school information to Missouri Accountability Portal 
  • HB2095 (H. Kelly) makes changes to the states Children’s Division 
  • HB1908 (Shaul) requires districts to review curriculum  
  • HB1856 (Baker) establishes the Extended Learning Opportunity Act 
  • HB2618 (Davidson) modifies adult high schools 
  • HB2000 (Schwadron) creates Holocaust Education Week 
  • HB2011 (T. Smith) requires written parental consent for IEPs 
  • HB1750 (Basye) creates a community engagement policy for school boards 
  • HB1804 (Veit) creates school board subdistricts 
  • HB2366 (Shields) mandates gifted education  
  • HB2010 (T. Smith) hearings for children with disabilities 
  • HB1469 (Pike) changes small school reimbursement policies 
  • HB2150 (Shields) makes changes to Braille instruction 
  • HB1753 (Basye) creates substance abuse recovery high schools 
  • HB1928 (Pollitt) expands visiting scholar certificates 
  • HB2304 (E. Lewis) creates an alternative path to substitute teachers and waives 550 rule for substitutes 
  • HB1721 (Shields) encourages districts to share superintendents 
  • HB1881 (R. Black) expands the use of critical shortage for 4 years 
  • HB2202 (Fitzwater) expands computer science 
  • HB2073 (Bangert) requires cursive writing 
  • HB2136 (A. Kelley) encourages suicide prevention training 
  • HB2689 (Sharp) requires class time to honor triumphs of black Americans 
  • HB2325 (Patterson) establishes the workforce diploma program 
  • HB2567 (Porter) creates the Imagination Library of Missouri program. 
  • HB1973 (K. Gregory) changes the definition of a school bus 
  • HB2493 (R. Black) changes the Career Ladder program 
  • HB2652 (Haffner) requires districts to notify parents if the school is in the bottom 5% 
  • HB1836 (Wiemann) modifies the Trauma Informed School Initiative 

An amendment was also added to the bill that would require transparency for the spending of federal COVID-19 funds. 

The committee voted the bill do pass and it will now go to the full House for consideration. If the bill passes the House, it will return to the Senate to either be approved or will be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate’s version and the House’s version.  

House continues to send bills to the senate 

With only three weeks remaining in the legislative session, the House continues to approve bills impacting public education and send them to the Senate for consideration. The following bills were passed by the House this week but will still need to go through the entire legislative process in the Senate prior to the end of session on May 13th. 

HB2493 (R. Black) expands on the criteria for Career Ladder program. Additional responsibilities and volunteer efforts outside of compensated hours may include uncompensated coaching, supervising and organizing extracurricular activities, serving as a mentor or tutor to students, additional teacher training or certification, or assisting students with college or career preparation. The bill increases the state percentage of funding for salary supplements for career ladder from 40% to 60% and lowers the number of years before a teacher is eligible from five to two years. MSTA supports HB2493 based on MSTA Adopted Resolutions and legislative priorities that support reinstating state funding for the career ladder program. 

HB1858 (Baker) creates the Parents' Bill of Rights Act of 2022 and provides a list of rights that parents may require school districts that receive federal or state money to follow. Rights listed in the bill include: the right to review curricula, books and instructional materials; the right to visit during school hours with restrictions; and the right to have sufficient accountability and transparency regarding school boards. School district restrictions are also outlined in the bill and include limits on nondisclosure agreements to review curriculum or for IEP meetings and certain other meeting and hearings; allowing student involvement in school assemblies, field trips or other extracurricular activities without written authorization from the parent; biometric data collection; and public meeting requirements that allow public comment. Each school district and public school must notify parents of all reported incidents pertaining to student safety including, but not limited to, any felony or misdemeanor committed by teachers or other school employees.  

Each school board must adopt policies that will ensure accountability and transparency for parents in the district and employees of the school are prohibited from coercing a minor to withhold information from a parent. The bill provides details on civil actions that may be taken against a school district and provides that withholdings from state funding may occur for noncompliance.  

The bill requires school boards to adopt a school board meeting speaker policy by the 2023-24 school year. The policy must designate a time for an open forum at the beginning of each public school board meeting. Boards may set time limits no less than three minutes per individual and the policy may outline specific information that everyone must provide before speaking. The school board may limit topics to exclude personnel issues and litigation issues, but school boards shall not ban individuals - except as provided in the bill. 

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, all school districts and charter schools must post the approved school curriculum that will be used for pupil instruction on the school's website. Any changes to the curriculum must be updated on the website within 30 days and notice must be provided in a form of written communication with parents. Any curriculum that is trademarked or copyrighted may not be widely disseminated to the public. 

This bill provides that no school or school employee shall compel teachers or students to discuss public policy issues without consent. The bill outlines additional ideas related to Title IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that teachers and students cannot be compelled to adopt, affirm or profess including but not limited to the idea that individuals of any race, ethnicity, color or national origin are inherently superior or inferior and that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity, color or national origin. Students, parents or teachers may file a complaint with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or the state Attorney General for violations. 

HB 2325 (Patterson) establishes the Workforce Diploma Program to assist students in obtaining a high school diploma and developing employability and career technical skills.  

HB 2365 (Shields) removes the label of “pilot program” from the early learning quality assurance reporting program and authorizes the program to provide continuous improvement and ongoing updated consumer education. 

HB 2152 (Henderson) provides a definition for "school innovation team" and for "school innovation waiver" as well as allows school innovation teams to submit a plan to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for a state innovation waiver for a variety of purposes. Plans submitted to the SBOE must include the provision of law for which the waiver is being requested, as well as demonstrate the necessity of the waiver, provide measurable performance targets and goals and demonstrate support for the plan. 

HB1683 (C. Brown) 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 examination upon which such student achieves a score of three or higher. 

Bill Summaries 

Senate Education 

HB1750 (Basye) expands the information to be made accessible on the Missouri accountability portal to include all forms of compensation and benefits paid to, or on behalf of, employees and bonds issued by any public school districts and charter schools and requires public schools to supply information to be made accessible on the portal to the Office of Administration. The bill requires that school districts notify parents and receive written permission before using corporal punishment. The bill repeals language related to the jurisdiction of the Children's Division within the Department of Social Services and its ability to investigate reports of alleged child abuse by personnel of a school district, a teacher or other school employee. It also repeals language related to how a school and school district are to handle reports of alleged child abuse.  

The bill establishes the Extended Learning Opportunity Act, which would award credit for out-of-classroom learning experiences approved by the State Board of Education, school boards or a charter school.  

The bill includes the creation of school innovation waivers that allow school innovation teams to submit a plan to the State Board of Education for a state innovation waiver for a variety of purposes. The plan submitted to the SBOE must include one or more of the following purposes: improving student readiness for employment, higher education, vocational training, technical training or any other form of career and job training; increasing the compensation of teachers; or improving the recruitment, retention, training, preparation or professional development of teachers. Plans submitted to the SBOE must include the provision of law for which the waiver is being requested, as well as demonstrate the necessity of the waiver, provide measurable performance targets and goals, and demonstrate support for the plan, along with additional requirements as provided in the bill. The waiver may not relate to school start date, teacher certification, teacher tenure or any requirement imposed by federal law. 

HB1750 requires school districts to adopt a community engagement policy based on community input that provides residents a method of communicating with the governing board of the school district or charter school. Any seven-director school district or urban district may be divided into subdistricts, or a combination of subdistricts and at-large districts and provide for the process for the election of subdistrict board members. The bill allows for the division process to be submitted to a vote of the district, either by a majority vote of the school board or by an initiative petition signed by 10% of the number of votes cast in the most recent school board election. This bill requires that, by July 1, 2024, school districts shall establish a state-approved gifted program if 3% or more of the students are identified as gifted. By July 1, 2024, district schools with an average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certified to teach gifted education. In districts with an average daily attendance of 350 or less, any teacher providing gifted instruction shall not be required to be certified to teach gifted education but must participate in six hours of professional development per year regarding gifted services. The expense of the training will be paid for by the school district. Hearings for children with disabilities, the burden of proof and the burden of production shall be on the school district regarding any matter related to identification, evaluation, reevaluation, classification, educational placement, disciplinary action or the provision of free, appropriate public education.  

This bill includes an open enrollment section for any person or a beneficiary of a trust (that owns residential or agricultural real property in any school district, pays a school tax of at least $3,000 in that district and owned property for at least three years) to send up to four children to that district without a tuition payment, upon notification to the district at least 30 days prior to enrollment. The district shall count that child for the district's average daily attendance.  

The current licensing process for the visiting scholars teacher certification is expanded by allowing individuals to obtain a certification to teach if they are employed by a district as part of an initiative designed to fill vacant positions in hard-to-staff schools or subject areas. The bill will allow provisionally certified teachers an alternative route to achieve their full professional certification beyond the qualifying score on a designated exam and the details of the alternative route are included in the bill.  

HB1750 provides a change to the certificate for individuals who want to substitute teach. Applicants for certification must complete a background check and have at least 36 college hours or have completed a 20 hour online training. Individuals must also have a high school diploma or equivalent. An alternative route to certification is provided for qualified individuals with technical/business expertise or Armed Forces experience and superintendent sponsorship. Until June 30, 2025, provisions allow retired teachers with a substitute certification to substitute part-time or as a temporary substitute without those hours and salary affecting their retirement allowance. The bill also requires that DESE to develop and maintain an online substitute training program with 20 hours of training related to subjects appropriate for substitute teaching and authorizes school districts to develop district specific orientations lasting two hours. Beginning January 1, 2023, substitute teachers who apply for a fingerprint background check will have the opportunity to submit the results to up to five different school districts for a specified fee.  

Beginning July 1, 2023, school districts would be allowed to enter into an agreement with another district to share a superintendent and receive an additional $30,000 per year in state aid for up to five years. The bill directs districts to spend the additional monies and half of the savings from sharing a superintendent on teacher salaries or counseling services.  

School districts are required to provide instruction in cursive writing by the end of the fifth grade, including a proficiency test of competency in reading and writing cursive. The bill also modifies the definition of "school bus" to include the requirement that the bus must be designed to carry more than 10 people. School districts are authorized to use other motor vehicles for the purpose of transporting school children.  

HB2366 (Shields) requires all school districts to adopt a gifted program.  

SB835 (O’Laughlin) would require school districts to allow home school students to participate in MSHSAA activities. 

House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Executive Session                           

HB1836 (Wiemann) modifies the Trauma Informed School Initiative to require participating schools to keep a record of specific incidents and to inform parents within 48 hours of a child's removal from a classroom due to an outburst. Voted do pass. 

HB2745 (Reedy) requires driver education to be taught as a section of required health courses. Voted do pass with committee substitute. 

HB2844 (T. Smith) allows school district employees and contractors to provide routine first aid and administer medication or medical services without any liability for their actions. Actions provided must follow proper procedure and be performed in good faith according to standard medical practice. Voted do pass with committee substitute.