What legislation to watch in 2018 Pt. 1

Jan 3, 2018

Political infighting prevented any major education reform wins in 2017, but the legislature is again slated to consider a variety of laws that could expand school choice in the state from expanding charter schools to creating a new ESA program to opening up virtual education to all Missouri students.

Other bills that have been pre-filed focus on increasing computer science programs, changing election dates for school boards and improving transparency for administrative salaries.

Check out part one of our 2018 legislative guide below to see what bills to watch this year as the 2018 session kicks off:

Transfer legislation

Two bills have been filed in the Senate which seek to modify the existing transfer law which allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer to schools in accredited districts within their own or an adjoining county.

Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s SB 559 would set up an accreditation system for individual schools, as opposed to districts, require transfers within a district before transferring outside of a district, creates a state-level School Transfer and Improvement Task Force, and modifies how transient student’s test scores are accounted for when determining building or district level accreditation status.

Most importantly, the bill would allow students participating in the transfer program during the 2016-17 or 2017-18 school years to continue to do so through their completion of middle school, junior high, or high school regardless of the current classification of their home district. The bill would also require the home district to cover transportation expenses to one designated school in an accredited district.

Senator Scott Sifton’s SB 587 provides fewer protections for families that have previously participated in the transfer program. His bill would change the requirement for students to attend school for 174 days per year to a requirement for 1,044 hours of attendance per year and would lift a restriction on the number of hours allowed in a school day.

The bill would modify future transfer programs, when a school or district is classified as unaccredited, to require that students be able to continue to on at a receiving school through their completion of middle school, junior high, or high school if their home district regains provisional or full accreditation, but it does not include any language that would impact families participating in the Normandy or Riverview Garden transfer programs.

Charter school legislation

Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, have been filed which would impact charter schools in Missouri.

The first bill, HB1580, filed by Representative Bruce Franks Jr., is focused on improving the accountability process for charter schools and their sponsors. The bill would prevent charter school sponsors from sponsoring new charter schools if they are currently sponsoring a charter school which would rank as unaccredited based on their APR score.  The bill would also limit the renewal terms for charter schools that perform worse than the average of non-selective schools within its district. The bill would also require approval for school renewal by voters within in the school district.

Senator Bill Eigel’s SB618 would allow for limited expansion of charter schools in Missouri and would also tie charter renewals to student performance.

Under the proposed legislation charter schools could be opened in districts with at least 2,800 students and one poorly performing school. The legislation would give the local school district the first chance to sponsor a proposed charter school, and would also create new accountability measures which would limit a charter school’s renewal term based on student performance and require an automatic closure if a charter school had poor academic performance on a persistent basis.

Up next…

Check out our blog next week to find out what legislation is being proposed that could expand virtual education, improve computer science offerings throughout the state, and create Missouri’s first education savings account program.