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Action Recap


Retirement Bill Gains Senate Approval

The Senate perfected SB75 (Black), clearing the way for a second vote before it is sent to the House for consideration. The bill makes several positive modifications to the PSRS/PEERS retirement system.  
MSTA supports these enhanced benefits to PSRS/PEERS members in SB75 based on MSTA Adopted Resolutions. MSTA supports reinstating of the 2.55 factor for 31 or more years of service, if actuarially sound.  
The first section of the bill would bring back the 2.55% benefit factor for educators with 32 years or more of service. Currently, the PSRS retiree benefit calculation is based on the benefit factor (2.5%) x Final Average Salary (monthly average of your three highest consecutive years of PSRS-covered salary including employer-paid health, dental and vision insurance premiums) x years of service. SB75 would increase the benefit factor to 2.55% as long as that educator has thirty-two years or more of service. According to an analysis conducted by the PSRS/PEERS actuary, reinstating the 2.55% factor would cause a very slight increase to the funded status of the system, increasing the system’s fiscal health.
The next section would increase the earnings amount for any teacher retired from PSRS employed in a position covered under the Public Education Employee Retirement System of Missouri (PEERS). Currently, retirees may earn up to 60% of the minimum teacher's salary ($15,000) working as a PSRS retiree in a PEERS position. SB75 would allow those retirees to earn up to 133% of the annual earnings limit applicable to a Social Security recipient (currently $28,250).
SB75 would make changes to the availability of critical shortage positions for retirees. An employer can hire up to 10% of the certificated staff, not to exceed five individual PSRS retirees, to work under critical shortage, allowing a retiree to work full time in a district and still receive their retirement benefit. Employers cannot use the Critical Shortage provision to fill the position of superintendent. There are certain requirements that must be met by a school district to use the critical shortage provision. In order to employ retirees under this provision, the employer must: not have offered early retirement incentives for either of the previous two school years, post the vacancy or vacancies for at least one month, solicit applications through the local newspaper, other media, or teacher education programs, make a good faith effort to fill positions with non-retired employees, determine that there is an insufficient number of eligible applicants for the advertised position(s) and declare a shortage of certificated or non-certificated employees. Current law only allows retirees to work full-time for two years. These changes would allow such employees to work full-time for up to four years for such districts. An amendment added in the Senate would allow districts a new limit on critical shortage of the greater of 1% of the total of teacher and non-certified staff for that school district, or five teachers.
There was an additional amendment added to the bill that would address an issue for retirees with a same-sex domestic partner beneficiary allowance, allowing them a change similar to the divorce pop up that was passed several years ago.  
The House Pensions Committee held a hearing on HB496 (E. Lewis) with many of the same sections that are included in SB75. MSTA testified in support of the bill in committee. 


Senate Sends Omnibus Education Bill to House

SB4, 42, and 89 (Koenig) were voted do pass. This would ban certain curriculum, create a massive database controlled by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of local district curriculum and professional development activities, and create a “Parents Bill of Rights,” and change calculations made in the
foundation formula.
Under SB4, public, charter and virtual schools must approve and adopt all curriculums at least two months before implementation. The legislation would create a massive central database within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal would include every school's curriculum, textbooks, source materials, and syllabi. The portal would also include the cost associated with speakers and guests used by a school in their professional development activities. 
Any school that knowingly violates supplying information to the Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal will be subject to a penalty of up to $25,000, unless the school proves to the satisfaction of the Department that it is no longer in violation of such provisions.
SB4 establishes the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2023,” which gives parents the right to inspect materials provided to their child within two days of a request, including curricula, books, source materials and other instructional materials. The bill includes language relating to school curriculum that includes prohibitions on what may be taught. No school or school employee can require teachers to teach, or a student or teacher to personally adopt, adhere to, or profess a position or viewpoint 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 others. No school can require a student or employee to attend or participate in training, instruction, or therapy that a reasonable person believes would violate this section.

If a parent learns that a teacher is in violation of this section, then the parent may file a complaint with DESE, which must send the complaint to the State Board of Education and notify the local school. Upon a determination by the State Board of Education that a violation is occurring, the school must place money into the student’s education savings voucher account each year until they graduate that can be used toward tuition at a private school.

SB4 also creates a patriotic and civics training program to prepare teachers to teach the principles of American civics and patriotism. If money is included in the state budget, each teacher who completes the training shall receive a one-time payment of three thousand dollars. The bill would also change the weighting of students who receive free and reduced-price lunch from 25% to 30% in the calculation of weighted average daily attendance. Students who are homeless would be weighted at 15% in the calculation of weighted average daily attendance.

MSTA opposes SB4. This legislation will create a massive state database, requiring educators to use valuable time doing additional paperwork and defending their course materials instead of working on course preparation, tutoring, or engaging directly with student’s parents. With a common database of curriculum housed at DESE, this legislation could also lead to the approval or disapproval of curriculum from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that would demolish the ability of local districts to develop their own curriculum. The $1.3 million cost to create a statewide database would duplicate what many districts across the state already provide. The money to fund this program could more wisely be used to raise educator salaries and enhance recruitment and retention efforts. 


Department Presents on Foundation Formula

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Deputy Commissioner of Financial and Administrative Services, Dr. Kari Monsees gave a presentation to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee about the state foundation formula. Dr. Monsees presented how the formula works, and what factors drive calculations on how districts pay. Missouri has been under the same funding calculation since the new formula was passed in 2005, with only minor changes.
Over the last several years, the current formula has begun to stagnate. While schools see increased costs to educate students, the formula is not keeping up. This flattening of the formula further contributes to low employee salaries and issues with recruitment and retention. While no specific ideas for changing or rewriting the formula were presented, there was open dialog on how changes could increase the funds available to districts and increase salaries.


MSTA Rapid Response System Still Active

If you haven’t contacted your legislators, it isn’t too late. You can still use the MSTA Rapid Response platform, or you may contact your state legislator via email or phone. It is still not known when these bills will come up for debate. 
HB253 (Pollitt) and SB5 (Koenig) will create open enrollment of public school students throughout Missouri, allowing students to enroll in nonresident public schools. The legislation claims to create a “voluntary” system, yet it is only voluntary as to whether a district accepts students, and if a transfer student decides at any time to return to the resident district, the resident district is again responsible for the education of that student.
Open enrollment would negatively impact teachers across the state, leading to school consolidation, the closing of schools, and limiting the ability of students to receive an education in their local community. MSTA’s other concerns regarding the legislation include the financial implications and an anti-collaboration effect that would pit districts against each other. HB253 would allow districts to discriminate against special education students.
MSTA opposes HB253 (Pollitt) and SB5 (Koenig). 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. MSTA opposes legislative actions involving the concept of inter-district choice and open enrollment.
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