"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MO Legislative Status

We are nearing the end of the legislative term. The 96th General Assembly session ends May 13th. Bills not in the final stages of approval by now have essentially no chance of passing this term. For our readers benefit we have listed below bills in both houses which relate most directly to education and have had activity within the last 3 weeks.

SB 13 Requires the Joint Committee on Education to oversee a task force on teacher compensation and effectiveness

SB 37 Establishes the "Students First Interscholastic Activities Act" to allow each student of high school age the opportunity to seek to participate in interscholastic activities. (MEW will have more on this and MSHSAA's opposition next term.)

SB 54 Creates the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act and establishes the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children

SB 81 Beginning in fiscal year 2013, the Office of Quality Schools within DESE may ensure that each Regional Professional Development Center provide professional development educational assistance for fine arts.

SB130 Creates the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program for public high school students who graduate from high school early

SB 147 Requires school districts to include certain information in their school accountability report cards (e.g. gifted program, # of applicants for teaching positions with specialties in math and sciences.)

SB 164 Establishes the Missouri Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative within the Department of Higher Education

SB 175 Modifies restrictions on the use of organized labor on public contract projects

SB 180 Among similar provisions, designates the month of October as "Walk & Bike to School Month," and the first Wednesday of October as "Walk and Bike to School Day."

SB 200 Modifies the ability of state educational institutions to issue bonds and incur debt

SB 228 Modifies the composition of the board of directors of the Kansas City School District

SB 240 Modifies the requirements for school anti-bullying policies. The definition of "bullying" is modified to include discrimination and to include actions that substantially interfere with a student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits, or that substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.

SB 242 Allows a pupil to enroll in an adjoining school district if the student's residence is located closer to a school in the adjoining district or in cases of transportation hardship

SB 243 Establishes the "Sharing of Services and Increasing Efficiencies Act" to allow school districts and other entities to achieve efficiencies

SB 247 Modifies the elementary and secondary education funding formula

SCS/SB 253 – Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, summer school attendance to be included in average daily attendance will only count attendance hours based exclusively on academic areas of study or hours required by a student's individualized education program. Curriculum must be based on core subject areas.

SB 291 Modifies provisions relating to charter schools

SB 329 Allows students to enroll in another school district or charter school for purposes of attending virtual courses or programs

SB 391 Requires the school board of each school district and charter school to establish an evaluation system for teachers and teaching

SB 400 Modifies provisions regarding the crime of sexual contact with a student while on public school property

SCS/SBs 369 & 370 Establishes procedures for resident pupils of an unaccredited school district to enroll in another school in the same or an adjoining county.

SB 345 Creates the Council on Digital Inclusion.

HB 556 Disability History And Awareness Month In Public Schools (more on this later)

SB 99/HB738 Highlights: By 6/12, DESE must develop an evaluation instrument to evaluate superintendent performance. When school districts consolidate or, a district undergoes an annexation or has a boundary line change that results in an increase in the number of enrolled pupils by 10% DESE must grant the new district a waiver from Missouri School Improvement Program review for three years. A superintendent, assistant superintendent, administrator, or central office personnel may not receive a total compensation package, as described in the act, that exceeds the amount of the district's total average salary for tenured teachers by two and one-half times. In addition, the average administrator salary must not exceed twice the amount of the district's average salary for tenured teachers. Any district that violates these limitations will have an amount equal to one percent of school funding provided through the foundation formula withheld.

Many of these bills will not pass this term, but will be reintroduced in the next session. It is useful to see where the legislative interest lies regarding education. Clearly school district actions to deal with funding shortfalls, charter or alternative schools and staff evaluations are high on the list. If you would like to learn more details about the status or language of these bills, you can go to house bills and senate bills.

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