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This past week, the Missouri House gave initial approval to HB 473, expanding where charter public schools can open and increasing the accountability on these schools.
The bill passed after much debate and an amendment was adopted to limit who could sponsor charter schools in provisionally accredited districts. The bill expands sponsorship in unaccredited districts and allows school boards only in fully accredited districts to sponsor charter schools.
The bill also greatly increases the accountability standards on charter schools as well. Provisions in HB 473 allow the State Board of Education to close a school and suspend a sponsor for poor performance or financial management. Sponsors must also apply to be allowed to open a charter school and all current sponsors must reapply. Reporting requirements on student performance and financial management were also increased.
The bill must still pass one more procedural vote, called “third reading”, before moving to the Senate for consideration. This vote could take place as early as Tuesday.
Also, in the House Education Committee, two Senate Bills were loaded up with amendments and voted out the the House floor for consideration. These moves are typical toward the end of the legislative session. The heavily amended bills are called omnibus bills.
Included in the two omnibus bills are provisions to replace teacher tenure with multi-year contracts and increase options for virtual schooling across the state. The bills would also create mechanisms for student choice and transfers, both in the unaccredited district and outside of the district, as a result of the Turner v. Clayton Missouri Supreme Court opinion.
These bills now move to the House floor for debate.