Senate Committee Approves Budget
This week the Senate Appropriations Committee completed their work on the fiscal 2022 budget. HB2 (C. Smith) is the funding for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The committee agreed to fully fund the foundation formula and to increase the core funding for transportation funding by $2.5 million. The Senate Committee also added a new decision item to increase school transportation funding by $20 million. Any differences between the House version and the Senate version will be worked out in a conference committee made up of members from each chamber.
The Senate Appropriations Committee added items that were not included in the House version of the bill, including:
- $25,000 for school board training.
- $25,000 for Impact Centers to help homeless students.
- $1.1 million for Hillyard Technical Center to update equipment.
- $2 million for a workforce development high school diploma program.
- $3 million for home screening.
- $1 million for an innovative waiver program.
- $1.36 million for a continuous improvement program.
The Senate Appropriations Committee changed the following line items:
- Public School Improvement money for the Opportunity Trust was reduced from the House version of $2 million to $500,000.
- Charter school deferred maintenance was reduced from the House version of $5 million to $1 million.
- Literacy reading program for St. Louis City was reduced from the House version of $2.5 million to $1 million.
- Character Education was increased from the House version of $1 to $160,000.
- School Turnaround program was reduced from House version of $3.2 million to $0.
The budget will be debated and approved by the full Senate before returning to the House for approval, or to call for a conference committee to work out the differences between the budgets.
The constitutional deadline for passage of the budget is May 7.
Senate Education Committee passes open enrollment bill
HB543 (Pollitt) was voted do pass by the Senate Education Committee. The bill was amended to add several new provisions, but sections that would allow statewide open enrollment of students remain. The legislation would dramatically change Missouri’s public school enrollment policies by allowing K-12 students to attend a school in a nonresident district.
New language to the bill would create a school accountability board to advise the State Board of Education relating to the state’s school improvement program and present findings, as well as make recommendations relating to school accountability and improvement. The bill would also now require DESE to designate schools that perform in the bottom 5% for more than three years to be designated as persistently failing schools. The language would also prescribe when districts must close school buildings or allow students to transfer to other schools or districts.
The committee also added language that would allow a parent to file a formal objection to the school board to any school policy, practice, or procedure which applies to the parent, guardian, or his or her child, including instructional materials or methods not required by state law. Within 30 days of receipt of the objection, the school board must issue a response denying the parent’s objection or describing an implementation plan to immediately exempt the child from the policy, practice, or procedure. Parents and guardians may appeal a school board’s denial by filing such appeal with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education within 15 days of the issuance of the denial. A parent or guardian shall be awarded $1,500 or the total amount of the parent or guardian’s contributions to local property taxes in the preceding year, whichever is greater if the school district fails to show by clear and convincing evidence that it responded as required by the act. Such award shall only be used for the child’s educational expenses.
MSTA remains opposed to HB543. The underlying bill, as well as the new sections of the committee substitute, are contrary to MSTA Adopted Resolutions regarding local control of public education. 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 continues to contain language that establishes the Public School Open Enrollment Act that would disrupt local control of public education and could lead to school consolidation in Missouri as has happened in other states. The bill creates an unfunded program that would create a system of further economic disparity between Missouri schools based on geographic location.
House Committee creates omnibus education bill
The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education created an omnibus education bill with SB152 (Hoskins) as the underlying piece of legislation and gave it initial approval. The bill has grown to over 130 pages and is now a conglomeration of many bills that have been previously heard by the committee as well as legislation from the Senate.
SB152 was filed as a bill that would align Missouri’s 529 savings program with federal rules and regulations. On the floor of the Senate, the bill was expanded to include a mandate for gifted education, competency-based education, the creation of the Show Me Success diploma program, and training for emergency situations relating to epilepsy or seizure disorders.
The House Committee added language from the following bills:
- HB387 (Bailey) creates guidelines for restraint and seclusion for school districts.
- HB1071 (Shields) extends the sunset on the early learning quality assurance program.
- HB228 (Basye) prevents any school district or charter school from prohibiting a parent or guardian from recording any IEP or 504 plan meeting.
- HB608 (E. Lewis) changes the law regarding substitute teacher certificates.
- HB108 (Bangert) requires the teaching of cursive writing.
- HB101 (Pollitt) creates school innovation waivers and allows critical shortage to be used for superintendent positions for up to two years and extends the critical shortage provision for teaching positions from two years to four years.
- HB896 (R. Black) creates requirements for career and technical education certificates.
- HB1133 (R. Black) modifies the Career Ladder program.
- HB64 (Pike) changes funding regarding the cost of serving high-needs students.
- HB465 (Pike) changes professional development relating to stress management.
- HB872 (Pike) allows half-day education programs to account for make-up days or hours lost or cancelled because of inclement weather.
- HB743 (Wiemann) requires trauma-informed 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.
- HB254 (P. Brown) requires school districts to implement policies requiring accommodations for breast-feeding mothers.
- SB448 (Rowden) modifies the visiting scholar certificate to teach.
- HB368 (Gregory) changes reading success plans for districts and provides further law relating to student literacy.
- Sections from SB55 (O’Laughlin) requires DESE to maintain and publish on its website any data or report sent from any federal agency.
- Sections from SB400 (Onder) that create a school accountability board responsible for advising DESE and the state board on accountability and improvement.
In addition to those sections, there are several provisions relating to higher education and community colleges.
Although the bill has been approved by the committee, it has been noticed for another executive session next week where further change could be made to the bill.
Elementary and Secondary Education
HB480 (Christofanelli) establishes the Cronkite New Voices Act, which provides that in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media. The bill permits school districts and student-media advisors to regulate the number, length, frequency, and format of school-sponsored media. School districts must adopt a written freedom of the press policy that includes reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression. The policy may also restrict speech that is offensive or threatening. The bill forbids school districts from prior restraint of school-sponsored media except in circumstances specified in the bill.
HB528 (Haffner) authorizes a tax deduction of up to $1,000 for qualified education expenditures for a student in a private school or home school.
SB152 (Hoskins) Education omnibus bill. See earlier story. Voted do pass with committee substitute and amendments.
HB228 (Basye) prevents any public school districts and charter schools from prohibiting a parent or guardian from audio recording any IEP or 504 plan meeting. Districts or charter schools may not require parents to provide more than 24 hours’ notice in order to record the 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 reporting.
HB306 (Griesheimer) requires 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, 2023. By this date, districts and charter schools with an average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated 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 per year of professional development, paid for by the school district, regarding gifted services. The bill also requires DESE to make rules regarding the minimal grade average requirement to qualify for the A+ grant award that will only consider grade averages that do not have a negative change to a student’s GPA from 2019-20 or 2020-21
due to the impact of Covid-19.
HB387 (Bailey) defines restraint and seclusion and requires school districts, charter schools, or publicly contracted private providers to include in policy the use of restraint and seclusion, including a prohibition on prone restraint for any purpose other than situations or conditions in which there is imminent danger of physical harm to self or others. Any incident requiring restraint or seclusion shall be monitored by school personnel with written observation. The policy must include guidelines for use, training, reporting and parental notification. The bill also contains protections for individuals that report or provide information about violations of these policies.
HB543 (Pollitt) creates open enrollment for Missouri public education, see earlier story. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
HB627 (Patterson) provides to parents of any qualified children a scholarship grant of $100 in a savings account. The accounts would be funded from a portion of the interest derived from the investment of funds of the State Treasurer not to exceed .35% of the total of the average daily fund balance in the State Treasury. The Treasurer shall establish a separate savings account for each qualified child under this bill and deposit scholarship seed money. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
SB386 (Eslinger) the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Career and Technical Advisory Council, is required to develop a statewide plan establishing the minimum requirements for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Certificate. The Department is required to develop written model curriculum frameworks for CTE programs, that districts may use. Voted do pass.
SB515 (Gannon) allows training or professional development in youth suicide awareness and prevention to contain at least one unit relating to stress management strategies for students and faculty members, and includes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline telephone number on student identification cards for students in grades 7 through 12. Voted do pass with committee substitute.
SB166 (Arthur) allows students to attend multiple public summer school programs non-concurrently. Voted do pass.
SB598 (O’Laughlin) provides that any participant eligible for retirement benefits resulting from membership in one or more defined benefit plans established by the state of Missouri or any political subdivision or instrumentality of the state may only receive retirement benefits from only one such defined benefit plan. Before any participant receives retirement benefits, the participant shall notify the plan that he or she is not receiving retirement benefits from another plan. The provisions of this act shall apply to any public official or employee who is employed for the first time on or after January 1, 2021.