Omnibus education bill passed in last week of session 

The 2022 legislative session ended at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13. Prior to adjournment, the General Assembly passed a large omnibus education bill. The original bill, SB681 (O’Laughlin), was filed to change reading interventions and literacy in schools but grew over the past month to include over 20 different topics relating to public education. Many of the sections of the truly agreed and finally passed version of the conference committee substitute for SB681 were versions or parts of bills that were stand-alone bills. The sections of the omnibus bill that are related to filed bills are listed below. The language was changed in many of the filed bills, including this final version of SB681. Several provisions supported by MSTA Adopted Resolutions were included in the omnibus bill.  

The underlying bill, SB681 (O’Laughlin), requires the State Board of Education (in consultation with MABEP) to align literacy and reading instruction coursework for teacher education programs. All reading and special education certificates shall include training as outlined in the bill. The State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the Commissioner's Literacy Advisory Council, must develop a plan to establish a comprehensive system of services for reading instruction. They must also create an Office of Literacy. 

The bill repeals retention requirements for struggling readers and requires schools to provide reading instruction with appropriate evidence-based reading intervention in the elementary grades. Assessment and intervention will begin 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 

Implementation of the assessment and intervention provisions would begin on January 1, 2023.  

The legislature approved $25 million in the FY ’23 budget for this reading instruction program.  

SB1075 (Schupp) requires each school to provide drinking water with a lead concentration below five parts per billion. On or before January 1, 2024, each school is required to complete requirements outlined in the bill including: conducting an inventory of all drinking water outlets and outlets used for dispensing water for cooking or cleaning utensils in each school building, developing a plan for testing each outlet and making such plans available to the public and providing general information on the health effects of lead contamination to employees and parents of children at each school. Before August 1, 2024, or the first day on which students will be present in the building (whichever is later) schools shall conduct water testing for lead. Within 2 weeks after receiving test results, schools shall make all testing results and any remediation plans available on the school's website.  

The legislature approved $27 million in the FY ’23 budget for clean water in schools. 

HB1956 (Richey), SB660 (Arthur), establishes the Show Me Success Diploma Program as an alternative pathway to graduation for high school students. A student may earn the Show Me Success Diploma beginning at the end of the 10th grade. By July 1, 2023, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop detailed requirements for students to become eligible for the Show Me Success Diploma. 

Students who earn a Show Me Success Diploma may elect to remain in high school. Alternatively, a student having earned the diploma may instead enroll in a qualifying postsecondary educational institution. For each student enrolled in such an institution, an amount equal to 90% of the pupil's proportionate share of the state, local, and federal aid that the district or charter school receives for such student shall be deposited into a higher education savings account that lists the student as the beneficiary. 

The language also allows school districts and charter schools to receive state school funding under the foundation formula for high school students who are taking competency-based courses offered by their school district or charter school. The bill establishes the Competency-Based Education Grant Program and Fund. DESE will award grants from the fund to eligible school districts for the purpose of providing competency-based education programs. The Department will 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. The bill also establishes the Competency-Based Education Task Force to study and develop competency-based education programs in public schools.  

The legislature approved $2 million in the FY ’23 budget for competency-based education. 

HB2152 (Henderson), SB662 (Arthur) will allow a school intervention team to submit a state innovation waiver plan to the State Board of Education for certain purposes, including 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. The State Board of Education may grant school innovation waivers to exempt schools from requirements imposed by current law or from any regulations promulgated by the Board or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Any waiver granted under this act shall be effective for no longer than three school years, but school innovation waivers may be renewed. No more than one school innovation waiver is allowed to be in effect with respect to any one elementary or secondary school. The legislation specifically states that the State Board shall not authorize the waiver of any statutory requirements relating to teacher certification, teacher tenure, or any requirement imposed by federal law.  

HB2000 (Schwadron) SB983 (Williams), designates the second week in April as Holocaust Education Week. Holocaust education must include age-appropriate instruction to elementary school students in 6th grade and higher. DESE is required to develop a curriculum framework of instruction for studying the Holocaust. The curriculum framework must be made available to up to 25 school districts or schools within a district as a pilot program in consultation with the Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. The pilot program shall start in participating school districts in the 2023-2024 school year and shall be expanded to include all school districts by the 2025-2026 school year. 

HB1753 (Basye) states that school districts and charter schools must 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. The policy creates a process for items related to educational matters to be added to the board agenda.  

HB2652 (Haffner) mandates that any individual public elementary school, secondary school, charter school or school district that is in the bottom 5% of scores on the annual performance report must mail a letter to the parents and guardians of each student in the school or district informing the parents and guardians of the score and any options available to students as a result of the school's or district's current status.  

HB1804 (Veit) allows for any school district to be divided into subdistricts (or a combination of subdistricts and at-large districts) and provides for the process of 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. If the ballot measure to divide the district is passed, the bill provides direction on conducting public hearings and the final development of plans to carry out the division of the district. Subdistricts shall be of contiguous and compact territory and nearly equal in population as practicable. 

HB2366 (Shields) SB806 (Hoskins) mandates that if 3% or more of students enrolled in a school district are identified as gifted, the district is required to establish a state-approved gifted program for gifted children. If a school district has an average daily attendance of 350 students or fewer, the district's gifted program shall not be required to provide services by a teacher certified to teach gifted education. Any teacher who provides gifted services through the program and is not certified shall annually participate in at least 6 hours of professional development focused on gifted development. These provisions shall apply starting in the 2024-2025 school year.  

HB1469 (Pike) currently, DESE will reimburse school districts for the costs of special education for high-needs children with an Individualized Education Program exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance, as calculated in the District Annual Secretary of the Board Report for the year in which the expenditures are claimed. This language states that any money reimbursed to a school district with 500 or fewer students is excluded from such calculation. The language specifies that a school district must submit the cost of serving any high-needs student with an IEP to DESE. 

HB2445 (Sassmann) makes a slight change to the foundation funding formula to allow the Gasconade County R-II, Maries County R-II and the West St. Francis County R-IV school districts (which all cross county lines) to use the dollar value modifier of the county with the highest dollar value modifier. 

HB2150 (Shields) requires blind and visually impaired students to have an Individualized Education Plan or Individualized Family Support Plan that will specify results obtained from evaluations on reading and writing skills and should include the need for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille. All instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be sufficient to allow a student to effectively and efficiently communicate at an appropriate age level. 

The act requires educators hired to teach Braille, accessible assistive technology, and orientation and mobility, to hold a valid certificate. The act requires school districts to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act even during declared emergencies, to bear the cost of any required eye report, and to develop nonvisual accessibility policies to reduce or eliminate common barriers for blind individuals. 

SB710 (Beck) requires individualized health care plans to be developed by school nurses in public schools and charter schools. These plans will be developed in consultation with a student's parent or guardian and appropriate medical professionals that address procedural guidelines and specific directions for emergency situations relating to the student's epilepsy or seizure disorder. Plans are to be updated at the beginning of each school year and as necessary. Notice must be given to any school employee that may interact with the student, including symptoms of the epilepsy or seizure disorder and any medical and treatment issues that may affect the educational process. All school employees will be trained every two years in the care of students with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Training must include an online or in-person course of instruction approved by the Department of Health and Senior Services. School personnel must obtain a release from a student’s parent to authorize the sharing of medical information with other school employees as necessary. The bill protects school employees from being held liable for any good faith act or omission while performing their duties. 

HB1753 (Basye), SB769 (O’Laughlin) allows the Commissioner of Education to approve and authorize up to four pilot recovery high schools to be established and operated by individual public school districts or groups of districts. Recovery high schools could serve as an alternative public high school setting and recovery program for students in recovery from substance use disorder or substance dependency who would academically and clinically benefit from placement in the recovery high school and who are committed to working on their recovery. Districts seeking to operate a recovery high school will submit proposals to the Commissioner by December 1st in the year prior to the first school year in which the school would begin operation. The proposal will detail how the school will comply with the existing requirements for public high schools as well as how the school will be accredited by a recovery school accreditation organization. 

HB1928 (Pollitt) expands on the current licensing process for the visiting scholars teacher certification 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. 

Language included in the omnibus also allows provisionally certified teachers an alternative route to achieve their full professional certification beyond the qualifying score on a designated exam. 

MSTA Adopted Resolutions support granting provisional certification for pre-service teachers who satisfactorily complete all criteria for certification except a final exam. 

HB2304 (E. Lewis) modifies the law regarding certification for individuals that want to substitute teach. The changes made are similar to changes made by the State Board of Education. Applicants for certification must complete a background check and also have at least 36 college hours or have completed a 20-hour online training. Individuals must also have a high school diploma or equivalent. The act also requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop and maintain an online substitute training program with twenty hours of training related to subjects appropriate for substitute teaching. The act authorizes school districts to develop district-specific orientations lasting two hours. Beginning January 1, 2023, substitute teachers that apply for a fingerprint background check may submit the results to up to five different school districts for a specified fee. 

Until June 30, 2025, retired teachers may substitute teach and not have those hours and salary affect their retirement allowance. 

MSTA Adopted Resolutions supports 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. 

HB1721 (Shields) allows a school district that enters into an agreement with another district to share a superintendent to receive an additional $30,000 per year in state aid for up to five years. Districts are required to spend the additional compensation and half of the savings from sharing a superintendent on teacher salaries or counseling services. 

HB2494 (R. Black), SB1107 (Bean) 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. The language also allows additional responsibilities and volunteer efforts outside of compensated hours that 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 FY ’23 state budget includes $37 million to restart the Career Ladder program. 

MSTA Adopted Resolutions support reinstating state funding of the career ladder program, and mentoring, tutoring and peer coaching as career ladder activities.   

HB2202 (Fitzwater), SB659 (Cierpiot) requires coursework and instruction in computer science and computational thinking in public and charter high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. Courses and instruction offered under this language must meet standards established by the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. School districts are required to submit to DESE certain information related to computer science courses and demographic enrollment information for such courses. This information must be posted on the DESE website by September 30th of each school year. DESE is required to appoint a computer science advisor to implement these provisions of the act. The "Computer Science Education Task Force" is created and must develop a strategic plan for expanding a statewide computer science education program.  The task force will present a summary of its activities and recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly. 

The legislature approved $450,000 in the FY ’23 budget for computer science education.  

HB2136 (A. Kelley) SB1142 (Hough) requires a public school or charter school with pupils in grades seven to twelve that issues pupil or student identification cards to print the 3-digit dialing code that directs calls and routes text messages to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988. 

MSTA Adopted Resolutions support providing student programs which appropriately support students in the aftermath of student suicide, in suicide prevention, and identification/awareness of the signs of suicide. 

SB1057 (May) establishes a mental health awareness training requirement for pupils in public schools and charter schools that must be given any time during a pupil's four years of high school. Instruction will be included in the district's existing health or physical education curriculum. Instruction will be based on a program established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

HB1471 (Pike), SB692 (Thompson Rehder) under current law, school boards shall prepare a calendar of attendance, including a minimum term of 1044 hours of actual pupil attendance and a minimum of 36 scheduled make-up hours for possible lost attendance due to inclement weather. The bill state that for half-day educational programs, the minimum hours of actual pupil attendance and minimum scheduled make-up hours will be reduced by one-half. 

HB2325 (Patterson), SB957 (Bean) establishes the Workforce Diploma Program within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to assist students in obtaining a high school diploma and in developing employability and career and technical skills through campus-based, blended, or online modalities. 

HB1683 (C. Brown) changes law relating to advanced placement examinations. Each in-state public community college, college, or university that offers postsecondary freshman-level courses must adopt and implement a policy to grant undergraduate course credit to entering freshman students for each advanced placement examination where a student achieves a score of 3 or higher for any similarly correlated course offered by the institution. 

HB2567 (Porter) creates the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Missouri Program within the Office of Childhood within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will be a statewide program for encouraging preschool children to read. 

HB1973 (K. Gregory), SB958 (Bean) modifies a definition of school bus to include only vehicles designed for carrying more than 10 passengers. School districts have the authority to use vehicles other than school buses to transport school children and specifies that the State Board of Education shall not adopt rules or regulations governing the use of transportation network companies for the transportation of school children. The language repeals the requirement that drivers of non-school-bus vehicles transporting school children have a school bus driver's license endorsement and provides that the vehicles other than school buses must meet any additional requirements of the school district. The State Board of Education shall not require an individual using a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 12,000 pounds or less for the purpose of providing student transportation services in a vehicle other than a school bus to obtain any license other than a class F license. 

Language was also included as an amendment that was not in a filed bill this session that passed in SB681 will require school districts to notify parents and receive written permission before using corporal punishment.  

MSTA Adopted Resolutions support a policy when a parent/guardian, in a district choosing to use corporal punishment, determines its use would not be in the best interest of the child, the parent/guardian may make a written request that identifies discipline alternatives specified in the district’s discipline policy that the parent/guardian will support. 

A section added to the bill that was also not filed as a stand-alone bill will allow a narrow version of open enrollment. The language would allow a landowner to send up to four children to a school in a district where the parent or guardian owns residential or agricultural real property. They must pay a school tax of at least $2,000 in that district and own property for at least four years. The enrolling school must be notified at least 30 days prior to enrollment. The district will count that child for the district's average daily attendance. 

The bill will now go to Gov. Mike Parson where he may veto or sign the bill into law. Many of the sections of the bill have delayed effective dates, while others will become law on August 28 

Bill changing charter school funding and virtual expansion passes 

HB1552 (Richey) was passed with two major changes to state law. The underlying bill changed funding for charter schools in the state. The bill was dramatically changed in the Senate and sent back to the House where it was approved with an expansion to Missouri’s virtual school program.  

In addition to any state aid remitted to charter schools, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall remit to any charter school an amount equal to the weighted average daily attendance of the charter school multiplied by the difference of: the amount of state and local aid per WADA received by the school district in which the charter school is located, not including any funds remitted to the charter school in the district; and the amount of state and local aid per WADA of the charter school received by the charter school. When calculating such amount, the Department shall utilize the most current data to which the Department has access. The funding calculation would only apply to charter schools where they currently exist. 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.    

Other changes to the charter school law include requiring members of a governing board of a charter school be residents of the state of Missouri and any charter school management company operating a charter school in the state shall be incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under provisions of law relating to nonprofit corporations. The bill also requires charter schools publish their annual performance report on the school's website in a downloadable format. 

The truly agreed and finally passed bill also contained language that would expand virtual education in Missouri. Changes to virtual education were also included in HB1552 that 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, eliminating local oversight of public education. The changes to virtual education are similar to the proposals in SB648 (Rowden) and HB1903 (Christofanelli). 

The bill outlines 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 in determining 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. 

In 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 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 and provide 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 school 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. On or before January 1, 2023, the Department must create a guidance document that details options for virtual course access and full-time virtual course access for all students in the state.  

Legislature passed money for salaries and Career Ladder, now what? 

The legislature spent the last four months working through the budget and legislative proposals relating to education funding and educator pay and, now that the legislative session is over, local districts have tough decisions to make. 

For districts that have teachers making under $38,000 they will have to decide if they want to join the voluntary grant program to raise all teachers’ salaries to $38,000. The local decisions will be tough as they will have to find the 30% of the money necessary to fund their portion of the increased salaries. These same districts will have to decide if they can also increase salaries for teachers that have more experience or if their teachers will have compacted salaries. This does not even begin to answer the questions about districts being able to sustain these salary increases in future years. Will the state continue to fund this salary grant program in future years, or is this a one-time state help for salaries that will leave districts scrambling to fund these on-going costs in future years? 

Many districts have worked hard and asked voters to support their efforts to increase teachers’ salaries and they will not receive any revenue from the state to support increasing salaries.  What should their response be to this grant program? 

 Many districts would like to start Career Ladder. With the change in law that now has the state paying 60% for Career Ladder there is a financial incentive for districts to implement this program, help students and allow teachers to make an additional stipend. Will a district be able to find the necessary funds to implement this program? What if a district is using local funds to meet the financial obligations for the voluntary minimum salary program and can’t afford to implement both this and Career Ladder?  

The amount of money that the state approved for these programs is unprecedented. $21.7 million for the voluntary minimum salary program and $31.7 for the Career Ladder Program shows the state is beginning to realize how vital it is to support Missouri’s education professionals. The plan isn’t perfect, but it shows an understanding by legislators that we must find ways to allocate money to local districts, allowing them to address recruitment and retention efforts on a local level. 

Clearly, the funds that districts have access to in the next fiscal year should be seen as a starting point, not a final destination for the state's involvement in raising salaries. The governor and legislature need to understand that they cannot provide one-time funds for on-going expenses. In addition, we must continue to address the need for a comprehensive statewide plan for raising teachers’ salaries.