Nixon Veto of SB493

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The Veto of Senate Bill 493 Compromises a Quality Public Education for All Missouri Students

This afternoon Governor Jay Nixon indicated he would veto Senate Bill 493 when it reaches his desk stating the Bill would “create further disruption for students in struggling school districts by eliminating the requirement that unaccredited school districts pay for transportation costs.”  Governor Nixon also cited the inclusion of the private school option as problematic stating, “throughout the legislative session I repeatedly made it clear that any efforts to send public dollars to private schools through a voucher program would be met by my veto pen.  The General Assembly ignored my warnings, and this veto will be the result.”

We agree with Governor Nixon’s belief that, “every child in Missouri deserves a quality public education.”  Governor Nixon has been supportive of strengthening the accountability requirements for charter public schools, which has been necessary and appreciated.  We believe Governor Nixon does want what is best for the children of Missouri.  However the impact on the charter public school provisions not becoming part of the Missouri State Statutes has the opposite effect.

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 and ensured neither the Sponsor or State would be held liable for charter school closure costs;
  • Clarified the requirement of a 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.

Instead, 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.

If the Governor’s concern is the inclusion of a private school option (an item not related to charter public schools) we wish he would have allowed the Bill to move into Statute and then worked with legislators to remove the piece of the law creating the greatest concern.  We believe concerns regarding transportation of transfer students could have been worked out in a negotiated manner.

Since 2010, 15 independent studies have found that students attending charter public schools do better academically then 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.

This veto, compounded with yet another Legislative Session closing and Governor Nixon not bringing to the Senate a slate of Commissioners for the Missouri Charter School Commission, an independent, statewide Sponsor, results in children in unaccredited districts, and throughout the State of Missouri, being let down.  Every child in Missouri may deserve a quality public education however the result is many children will once again not have that option available to them.

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