Reimagining Education

Senate Bill 727: Expansion of the MOScholars Program

Senate Bill 727 represents a milestone in the evolution of Missouri’s educational landscape, particularly through its expansion of the MOScholars K-12 scholarship program. This 176-page bill introduces a range of changes, including various school choice policies and benefits for public schools. In this blog, we’ll delve into the heart of SB 727: the MOScholars expansion, and explore what it means for families across the state.

Before we begin, it is important to say that there are still many details that are uncertain and will be finalized through the rulemaking and implementation process. Even the implementation timeline has not yet been determined. 

Key Elements of MOScholars Expansion:

1. Expansion Statewide: One significant change in SB 727 is the expansion of the MOScholars program to cover all parts of the state. Eligibility will no longer be determined by home address, opening doors to more students statewide.

2. Increased Scholarship Amounts: Reflecting the allocations for students in public schools, SB 727 introduces increased scholarship amounts. Under current laws, scholarships cannot exceed 100% of the state adequacy target. The bill includes the following increases:

   -Free and Reduced Lunch Qualifying Students: SB 727 increases the scholarship amount for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch up to 125% of the state adequacy target. 

   -Limited English Proficiency Students: For students with limited English proficiency, the bill raises the scholarship amount up to 160% of the state adequacy target.

   -Students with an IEP: The bill also increases the scholarship amount for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) up to 175% of the state adequacy target. 

3. Overall Cap Increase: SB 727 raises the program’s overall cap from $50 million to $75 million, allowing for more students to benefit from the program.

4. Income Eligibility Raise: The bill raises the income eligibility from 200% to 300% of the free and reduced lunch rate, expanding access to the MOScholars program for more families.

5. Expanded Eligibility for Dyslexia: SB 727 expands eligibility to include these students, ensuring they have access to the support they need.

6. Sibling Priority: The bill prioritizes siblings before new recipients, ensuring that qualified siblings of current scholarship recipients have an improved chance of receiving the scholarship. 

7. Expansion of Educational Assistance Organizations (EAOs): SB 727 includes a provision that allows the Treasurer to add additional EAOs. If the total contributions to EAOs exceed twenty-five million dollars in any school year, the state treasurer can certify one additional EAO to administer scholarships. 

8. Transparency and Reporting: The state treasurer will be required to post annually on their website information regarding the MOScholars program, including the number of students awarded scholarships, enrollment data for qualified schools, and average scholarship grant amounts, ensuring transparency and accountability of the program.

9. Addition to the MOScholars Board: The MOScholars board will now be required to appoint an additional board member who is an employee of an EAO directly involved in day to day operations of the program, ensuring expertise in overseeing the program.

Stay tuned for updates on SB 727 and its potential impact on Missouri’s education landscape.

If you’ve had a great experience with MOScholars or may soon qualify when the bill becomes law, we would love to hear from you! Real life stories from families help decision makers and many others understand the impact of the program. Together we can continue to improve the educational landscape in Missouri by providing options for all families regardless of where they live. Please take a moment to share your story here: https://bit.ly/MOStory.

Senate Bill 727 is a far reaching education bill that expands more than just the MOScholars program. It expands charter public schools, the MOCAP virtual program and also benefits teachers and public school districts. Click here to see our infographic about SB 727.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions to Cici Tompkins at cici@ceamteam.org.

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