Advocacy Updates from the Executive Director

Advocacy Updates from the Executive Director

Douglas P. Thaman, Ed.D.

Executive Director

STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE -July 10, 2014

​Yesterday Governor Nixon signed HB 1689 which modifies provisions regarding early childhood education programs.

Within HB 1689 it states:

163.018. 1. Notwithstanding the definition of “average daily attendance” in subdivision (2) of section 163.011 to the contrary, pupils between the ages of three and five who are eligible for free and reduced lunch and attend an early childhood education program that is operated by and in a district or by a charter school that has declared itself as a local educational agency providing full-day kindergarten and that meets standards established by the state board of education, shall be included in the district’s or charter school’s calculation of average daily attendance. The total number of such pupils included in the district’s or charter school’s calculation of average daily attendance shall not exceed four percent of the total number of pupils who are eligible for free and reduced lunch between the ages of three and eighteen who are included in the district’s or charter school’s calculation of average daily attendance.

The intent to include this language within HB 1689 was to allow charter public schools whom include an early child education (PreK) program as part of their school to enroll and receive state aid for those children whose families qualify for free and reduced lunch (note the percentage limitation in the last sentence).

Although positive this is but one step. The statute does not allow a charter public school to receive state aid for PreK students whom do not qualify for free and reduced lunch nor answer these questions:

1. Must a charter public school include the operation of a PreK program in their state approved charter application as part of their school design?

2. As these students are receiving state aid for PreK must they still lottery into the school’s kindergarten?

3. Would a change in the charter school statutes including early childhood education as part of the charter school grade model (currently stated as kindergarten through twelfth grade) allow a charter public school to use money within their operating budget to cover the expense of a PreK program?

We will be seeking answers/clarification to these questions and considering with our members what changes in the charter school statues are desirable and necessary to include early childhood education as part of their school model eliminating the barrier of students in PreK having to lottery in to their schools Kindergarten.

Below is a link to the bill text if you wish to review it.

HB 1689 – http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/truly/HB1689T.PDF

—————————————————————————————————-

STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – SB493 VETO

Governor Jay Nixon delivered the unfortunate, ‘as expected’ veto of Senate Bill 493 today. Governor Nixon cited three reasons for his action on Senate Bill 493:

  • The use of public funds to pay for private school tuition;
  • The elimination of the current requirement that unaccredited districts pay for the transportation costs of transfers;
  • The allowance for receiving districts to discount the tuition paid for transfers in exchange for not having to consider those students’ performance data for accountability purposes for up to five years.

A copy of Governor Nixon’s letter of veto can be found at the following links:

Veto Letter:

http://governor.mo.gov/sites/default/files/legislativeactions/veto_letters/SB%20493%20veto.pdf

Press Release:

http://governor.mo.gov/news/archive/gov-nixon-vetoes-senate-bill-493-calls-regional-school-leaders-support-state-plan

MISSOURI’S STUDENTS AND CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE THE CASUALTY 

Unfortunately, a casualty of the Governor’s veto was language within Senate Bill 493 strengthening the Missouri Charter Public School Statutes.  Although the Governor did not express concern with these provisions they now do not move forward into law.

The charter public school provisions would have:

  • Authorized additional sponsors for charter schools;
  • Triggered MO DESE withholding charter school funds upon notification of closure ensuring neither the Sponsor or State would be held liable for charter school closure costs;
  • Clarified the requirement of a legal performance contract;
  • Lengthened the time MO DESE had to approve new charters and added due process language to ensure that every application submitted by a Sponsor is considered and, if not, deemed approved;
  • Created an expedited process for expansion and replication of high quality charters; and,
  • Clarified that the financially distressed category for public schools does not apply to charter schools in the first three years of operation.

Without these necessary changes Governor Nixon’s veto compromises the ability to ensure that every child in Missouri has access to a quality public education.  This is particularly true in unaccredited districts where the needs are greatest.

Since 2010, 15 independent studies have found that students attending charter public schools do better academically than their traditional school peers.  1 in every 20 students in the United States now attends a charter public school with more than 2.5 million students enrolled in nearly 6,500 charter public schools.  Over 1 million students are on waiting lists for public charter schools.  The demand has never been higher including the State of Missouri.

We believe concerns regarding the inclusion of private schools and the transportation of transfer students could have been worked out in a compromising manner.  This veto, compounded with yet another Legislative Session closing and Governor Nixon not bringing to the Senate a slate of Commissioners for the Missouri Independent Charter School Commission, results once again in children in unaccredited districts, and throughout the State of Missouri, not having the public school options they are entitled to.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

UPDATE: HOUSE BILL 1490 – Common Core

June 16, 2014

Last week Douglas Thaman and Karren Colbert met with Dennis Cooper, DESE’s Assistant Commissioner of Quality Schools, to clarify the status of HB1490 and discuss how this proposed legislation would impact charter schools.  Below are key points for charter school leaders and teachers regarding HB1490 and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, also referred to as the Missouri Learning Standards.

  • Currently House Bill 1490 is awaiting action by Governor Nixon.  There is still a chance he may veto the bill.
  • If passed, HB1490 has no immediate effect on the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.  Students in grades 3-8 will take a new Common Core-aligned assessment in the spring of 2015.  End-of-course (EOC) exams and science assessments are unaffected by HB1490.
  • Passage of HB1490 would create work groups to study the feasibility of the state learning standards for the following content areas: Math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.  These groups would be comprised of educators, as well as other stakeholders.  Future revisions to the state standards would be based on the recommendations of these groups and MCPSA is working to ensure charter school representation is included.
  • Growth Model: Calculation adjustments will be made to ensure student growth is measured consistently as the transition is made to the new assessment.
  • APR: After 2015, a trend analysis will be used to reestablish cut scores so schools remain on the same trend line.
  • DESE strongly advises schools to proceed with the implementation of the new standards. 

MCPSA is monitoring any action related to this legislation and will update member schools as information becomes available.  Services are available to help your school assess the effectiveness of your curriculum, identify gaps in your instructional programming and align curriculum to fulfill the requirements of the Missouri School Improvement Program and the Outstanding Schools Act.

For more information and/or assistance please contact Karren Colbert, MCPSA Common Core Consultant, at kcolbert@mocharterschools.org.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

MO SENATE BILL 75 – REQUIRED ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS – May 29, 2014

In July 2013 Senate Bill 75 was passed. The bill begins with language indicating that a school MAY include a training component on how to properly respond
to students who provide them with information about a threatening situation and how to address situations in which there is a potentially dangerous or armed intruder in the school. However in 170.315 (3) it indicates that “all school personnel shall participate in a simulated active shooter and intruder response drill conducted and led by law enforcement professionals.”

The contacts for the Kansas City Police Department and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to coordinate these drills are below. If your school has already participated in an active shooter drill please share any information with me you believe would be helpful for all of the charter schools and we will include in our weekly bulletin.

Each school’s governing board will want to adopt a policy (or amend their current policy regarding school safety plans) to include the active shooter and intruder response drill.

Please note these are now required drills like fire drills and tornado drills.

Kansas City Police Department
Randy Sims
randall.sims@kcpd.org
Kansas City Missouri Police
Operations Sergeant
816-329-0786

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Angela Coonce
agcoonce@slmpd.org
Intelligence Division
Desk (314)444-5690
Cell (314)306-6407

———————————————————————————————————

Missouri Legislative Update – SB493 – May 15, 2014

Last evening the Missouri State Senate reviewed, considered, and approved the Senate Bill 493 Conference Committee Substitute by a vote of 28-3. This afternoon the Missouri State House of Representatives Truly Agreed and Finally Passed Senate Bill 493 with a vote of 89 to 66.

With the Bill having passed both bodies of the General Assembly it will move to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk for consideration and signature. Governor Nixon has until July 14, 2014 to either sign the Bill, veto it, or do neither in which case it will go into the Missouri Statutes.

Now is a time to rally support and let Governor Nixon know the importance of signing SB493 into law. It’s imperative for him to hear from as many stakeholders in Missouri’s charter school sector as possible encouraging his signature.

Click here to find the template for a letter of support. Please feel free to cut and paste the text from the template, put on your letterhead, make any additions or changes you desire and send to the Governor. Please also feel free to share this letter with any other individuals (parents, governing board members, funding supporters, business and community leaders) whom you believe would send a letter of support and encouragement.

Please do not think your letter would not be important! Governor Nixon receiving multiple letters encouraging his support and signature can send a powerful message and truly make a difference!

As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know. A recap of the 2014 Legislative Session including other measures besides SB493 will be provided one Session has concluded.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MISSOURI LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – SB493 – MAY 15, 2014

Last evening the Missouri State Senate reviewed, considered, and approved the SB493 Conference Committee Substitute by a vote of 28-3. It is projected that the Bill will be read this morning on the Floor of the Missouri House of Representatives and a vote will be taken. MCPSA will share those results when they occur.

A link to the SB493 Conference Committee Substitute is as follows:

http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=27723589

In regards to the charter school provisions, no changes were made and the provisions were adopted by the Senate as written.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

MISSOURI LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – SB493 – May 14, 2014

http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=27723589

As of 4:00 this afternoon SB493 had moved out of Conference Committee and the drafting of the Conference Committee Substitute is in process.

Thus far the charter school provisions have fared well and we know they have agreed upon:

  • A revised timeline on the State Board of Education’s approval of Charters;
  • The House version of charter school closure which prevents Sponsors from being held responsible for a closing school’s debt;
  • Does not require the accreditation of charters by sponsors;
  • Includes a high performing charter provision at 90 percent;
  • Removes charter schools from being identified and labeled as financially distressed until after 3 years; and,
  • Prohibits school boards which open charter schools from double counting kids in their reporting.

As soon as drafting of the Conference Committee Substitute is completed it will likely move to the Floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. We will provide you with a copy of the Substitute as well as alert you to the movement of SB493.

The Bill has moved many miles however there is still a ways to go. As previously mentioned, due to the inclusion in the Bill of a ‘private school option’ Governor Nixon is expected to veto. Although this is not a charter school related issue it is within the Bill’s text and could prevent final passage. The link below is to an article today regarding Governor Nixon’s stance on inclusion of a private school option.

http://politicmo.com/2014/05/13/nixon-on-transfers-bill-public-dollars-in-private-schools-is-where-i-draw-the-line/

We will continue to keep you posted as the decision making process in the State Capitol continues.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

MISSOURI LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – MAY 12, 2014

SB493:
http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=27723589

SB493 has moved into Conference Committee. Thus far, they have agreed upon:

  • The House version of charter school closure which prevents Sponsors from being held responsible for a closing school’s debt;
  • Does not require the accreditation of charters by sponsors;
  • Includes a high performing charter provision at 90 percent;
  • Removes charter schools from being identified and labeled as financially distressed until after 3 years; and,
  • Prohibits school boards which open charter schools from double counting kids in their reporting.

The Conference Committee will reconvene tonight at 8pm.

One point of clarification regarding SB493, The House version of the transfer bill allowed charters as a transfer option for kids in unaccredited districts in adjoining counties. Unfortunately this was removed in a very large amendment on the House floor preventing the opportunity for students in unaccredited districts to transfer to a charter public school.

Common Core (HB1490):
http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/sumpdf/HB1490P.pdf

As reported earlier, HB1490 was passed last week by both Chambers of the Missouri Legislature. The bill awaits one final committee approval before moving to the governor’s desk for signature. Those closest to this bill’s process indicate it is likely to be passed. In reviewing HB1490 it is clear the bill establishes a team to look at whether or not Missouri should continue down the path of Common Core or go in another direction. It is not as I stated earlier, “an ending of Common Core in the State of Missouri” but slows the process down for study and consideration.

The bill also includes language that, ” a school district or charter school may adopt its own standards in addition to the current state standards as long as the standards are in the public domain”.

​————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

COMMON CORE – May 12, 2014

Last week both Chambers of the Missouri Legislature passed a bill (HB1490) essentially ending Common Core in the State of Missouri. The bill awaits one final committee approval before moving to the governor’s desk for signature. MCPSA is seeking information/answers regarding key difference in the House and Senate versions of the bill and tracking the movement. We have also asked the MO DESE for information regarding the impact of this bill’s final passage.

Beyond individual opinions of Common Core there are financial implications to all of the schools whom have invested dollars in materials, training, and conversion processes. Joe Robertson’s story, this morning, in The Kansas City Star does a good job of capturing the debate/issue and providing perspective:

http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/08/5011592/missouri-lawmakers-find-middle.html

As we have information we will share knowing this is an important issue for each of you and your schools in several different ways.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

FEDERAL LEGISLATION UPDATE - May 12, 2014

On Friday the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act in a bipartisan vote of 360 to 45. The legislation, introduced by Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA) will strengthen and improve the federal Charter Schools Program.

According to Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “start-up dollars provided by the federal Charter Schools Program have helped nearly 4,500 public charter schools open their doors and serve students”. This includes several charter schools in the State of Missouri and with the opportunities for charter school expansion in the State the Charter Schools Program Grant is a critical tool for quality growth meeting the federal CSP’s primary purpose of helping expand the number of high-quality charter schools across the country through targeted grants. H.R. 10 includes several key improvements to existing law, such as:

  • Giving priority in the state grant competition to states that do not limit the growth of charter schools;
  • Supporting federal grants for the replication and expansion of high-quality public charter schools;
  • Clarifying and codifying the Department of Education’s recent guidance to allow charter schools to use “weighted lotteries” to give a preference to disadvantaged children in admission lotteries;
  • Making state charter support organizations eligible to receive and disburse grants to fund the start-up and expansion of high-quality charter schools;
  • Allowing students to remain within an existing family of charter schools as students move from elementary to middle to high school without having to reapply through a lottery;
  • Strengthening state application requirements to ensure that start-up funds are awarded only to charter schools with fundamental autonomy over budget, operations, and personnel; and
  • Providing increased flexibility for schools using start-up grants.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with the National Alliance and members of the U.S. Senate on the charter school bill that was introduced in that chamber this week.

As Rees notes, “with a bill having passed the House last week and now a bill introduced in the Senate, there is momentum building around reauthorizing and improving the federal Charter Schools Program”.

Any assistance you and those within your school community can provide urging leaders in the Senate to move this legislation quickly to address the hundreds of thousands of students and families hoping for the opportunity to attend a high-quality public charter school would be terrific!

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – May 7, 2014

Yesterday Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, legislation that will reauthorize the federal Charter Schools Program.  The provisions included (see below) mirror what is also included in House legislation expected to be considered later this week via H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act.

The federal CSP’s primary purpose is to help expand the number of high-quality charter schools across the country through targeted grants. The Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act will:

  • Give priority to states that provide equitable funding to charter schools;
  • Prioritize grants to states that ensure start-up funds are awarded only to charter schools with fundamental autonomy over budget, operations, and personnel;
  • Clarify and codify the Department of Education’s recent weighted lottery guidance to allow more schools to take advantage of the tool;
  • Ensure students can remain within an existing family of charter schools as students move from elementary to middle to high school without having to reapply through a lottery; and
  • Make state Charter Support Organizations eligible to receive and disburse grants.

There are three major differences in the Senate legislation: it prioritizes grants to states that have policies to help charter schools acquire or lease facilities; contains no cap on funding for the CSP; and allocates a larger percentage of funding to high-performing charter school networks to expand and replicate.  The first point, a facility acquisition policy, does not exist in Missouri (negatively impacting prioritization of a Missouri grant application).  If this passes into law it will serve as one more critical reason why we need to achieve the setting of legislative policy helping charter schools acquire or lease facilities.