Reimagining Education

Charter School Legislation Discussed in State Capitol

Legislation that would extend the scope, and increase the accountability, of charter public schools was debated in the Missouri House of Representatives last week.  A compromise amendment to HB 473 was offered by State Representative Mike Thompson was pending when the bill was laid over until this week.

The compromise amendment was crafted after discussions with multiple stakeholder groups both in the education establishment and the education reform movement.  The main points of the bill, should the amendment be adopted, are as follows:

  • Charter schools would be allowed in unaccredited districts under the committee substitute provisions of HB 473, expanding sponsorship to non- profits, community colleges and the newly created Missouri Charter Public School Commission.
  • Charter schools could open in provisionally accredited districts after the district is labeled provisionally accredited for three years.  Charter schools in these districts would only be sponsored by “quality sponsors”, as defined by a rule of the State Board of Education, or by the school boards in the district.
  • In fully accredited districts only the school boards of the district could sponsor charter schools
  • All accountability measures from the committee substitute for HB 473 remain in place.  These measures include a provision allowing the State Board of Education to close a poor performing charter school and a requirement that sponsors apply to the state board to be allowed to sponsor a charter school.

Legislation that would allow charter schools to be sponsored by any school board in the state was also debated, and held over, on the floor of the State Senate last week as well.  This bill increases some reporting requirements on charters and does not increase the scope of who can sponsor a charter school outside of the local district’s school board.  An amendment to the bill that would allow the Mayor of St. Louis to sponsor charter schools was offered by Senator Jim Lembke, but then withdrawn after it was clear that it would be filibustered.

Both bills are still on the legislative calendars in both chambers and could be brought back up for discussion any time the chambers are in session.

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