Missouri General Assembly Legislative Recap – May 17, 2014

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Senate Bill 493 – Transfer Bill
SB493 was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed.

In regards to charter schools:

  • This act allows the school board of an accredited district or a combination of school boards of accredited districts to sponsor charter schools located in unaccredited school districts. (Section 160.400)
  • When a sponsor notifies a charter school of closure, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must withhold funds to assure all obligations of the charter school are met. The state is not liable for any outstanding liability or obligations of the charter school. If the assets of the school are insufficient to pay all parties to whom the school owes compensation, the prioritization of the distribution of assets may be determined by a court of law. (Section 160.400)
  • This act modifies the requirement so that a charter must include a legally binding performance contract. (Section 160.405)
  • Requires the State Board of Education to approve a charter by January 31 prior to the school year that is the proposed opening date of the charter school. (Section 160.405)
  • This act requires the sponsor to prepare a statement of finding regarding compliance. (Section 160.405)
  • The State Board of Education must approve or disapprove a charter application within sixty days of its receipt. Any charter application received on or before November 15 of the year prior to the proposed opening of the charter school must be considered by the State Board within sixty days. At the end of sixty days, the charter application will be deemed approved unless the State Board disapproves it on the grounds that it fails to meet statutory requirements or the sponsor has previously failed to meet the statutory responsibilities of a sponsor. If the State Board disapproves a charter application, it must do so in writing and identify the specific failures of the application to meet statutory requirements. The written disapproval must be provided to the sponsor within ten business days. (Section 160.405)
  • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must calculate an annual performance report for each charter school and must publish it in the same manner as they are calculated and published for districts and attendance centers. (Section 160.405)
  • Allows high quality charter schools, as defined, to be provided expedited opportunities to replicate and expand into unaccredited districts, the St. Louis City School District, and the Kansas City School District. (Section 160.408)
  • Charter schools are prohibited from charging tuition or imposing fees that a school district is prohibited from charging. (Section 160.415)
  • Current provisions of law relating to charter schools experiencing financial stress will only apply to charter schools that have been operating for three or more school years. (Section 160.417)
  • When a local school board sponsors a charter school, it may only submit an estimate of the district’s weighted average daily attendance for the current year. The school board will be prohibited from using a weighted average daily attendance count from any preceding year for purposes of determining state aid.

These are all provisions we advocated for on behalf of our membership believing they strengthen the Missouri charter statutory requirements. Unfortunately the allowance for students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to a charter public school in a neighboring district was stricken from the SB493 through a House amendment.

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House Bill 1689 – Early Childhood Bill
HB1689 was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed.

HB1689 requires that a school district or a charter school that has declared itself as a local educational agency that operates an early childhood education program may receive state funding through the foundation formula for students between the ages of three and five who are eligible for free and reduced lunch if the district or charter school provides full-day kindergarten and meets standards established by the State Board of Education.

Should Governor Nixon sign HB1689 into law MCPSA will work to bring clarification. Currently the Missouri Charter School Statutes state that a charter school must, “Provide a comprehensive program of instruction for at least one grade or age group from kindergarten through grade twelve, which may include early childhood education if funding for such programs is established by statute, as specified in its charter”. HB1689 allows for funding for students between the ages of three and five in an early childhood program. The question now exists as to whether when a charter school operates a preschool program (receiving public dollars from the foundation formula) would those students be allowed to automatically transition to kindergarten or still required to go through the lottery.

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House Bill 1490 – Common Core Bill
http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/biltxt/ccs/HB1490S.htm

HB1490 was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed.

HB1490 requires the development of work groups to develop new academic performance standards. It is not necessarily an ending of Common Core in the State of Missouri but definitely reframes the adoption of academic performance standards as those for the State of Missouri (even if they are CC Standards). The piloting of assessments from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in 2014-15 is still included.

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”.

Should Governor Nixon sign HB1490 into law MCPSA will work to bring clarification which is extremely important in every school’s planning of professional development and curriculum alignment efforts.

With all 3 Bills having passed both bodies of the General Assembly they will move to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk for consideration and signature. Governor Nixon has until July 14, 2014 to either sign each Bill, veto it, or do neither in which case it will go into the Missouri Statutes.

MCPSA will continue to track the movement of these Bills and be prepared to share information and interpretation for each of you. As always, should you have any questions please let us know. We will do our best to provide you the answer and/or seek the information for you.

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