Weekly Update
January 29, 2021

Governor signs executive order establishing central office for all things childhood
Yesterday, Governor Mike Parson held a press conference and was joined by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven, Acting Director of Social Services Jennifer Tidball, and Director of Health and Senior Services Dr. Randall Williams to announce plans for the new Office of Childhood

The governor signed Executive Order 2021-01 which establishes the Office of Childhood within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This move consolidates functions currently spread across multiple departments into one central office. 

Today, Missouri's early childhood is one of the least coordinated in the nation, ranking 45th overall by the Bipartisan Policy Center. This fragmentation makes it challenging for the state to deliver programs and services and results in unnecessary hardships for children, families, and early care and education providers. 

The Office of the Governor created a one-pager that explains why this move makes sense.

Aligned understands that a large portion of Missouri's workforce is made up of parents who need care for their children, before they reach school age and beyond, so they can maintain their own employment. We are not only investing in the workforce of now by supporting parents, but the workforce of the future, by ensuring our children enter school prepared to learn and succeed.

We will be working with stakeholders over the next six months to help ensure a smooth transition. The new Office of Childhood will become official on August 28th, 2021.

Below is an organization chart that illustrates where the Office of Childhood will live within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the spending priorities that are in the Governor's FY22 budget. 

Governor Parson breaks tradition and delivers annual address in Senate Chamber.
PHOTO CREDIT: Office of the Governor
Missouri News
Legislative Update
On Wednesday, despite a COVID-19 outbreak derailing his plan to address a joint session of the General Assembly, Governor Mike Parson delivered his annual State of the State address.  The Governor outlined his administration's response to the pandemic and gave an update on the state's vaccine roll-out. Following a recap of 2020, Governor Parson's speech focused on priorities for 2021: 
  • education and workforce development
  • infrastructure, stronger communities
  • health care
  • government reform 
Governor Parson also expressed his hope that the legislature will make COVID-19 liability protection and taxation of Internet sales (Wayfair) top priorities this session. The full text of the speech may be found here: State of the State Address.  

Click here to read the remainder of our weekly Capitol report

Budget Update
This Governor released his proposed $34.1 billion operating budget for FY2022 which includes $10.5 billion in general revenue.  The proposed budget is currently $3.9 billion less than FY2021.  Accordingly, both House and Senate committees began meeting this week to receive broad overviews of the various state departments and become familiar with the budget process. The House Budget Committee also met twice this week to receive an update on the CARES Act funding and how that is being distributed. 

The full executive budget may be found here: FY2022 Executive Budget

Budget highlights we have identified are listed here.
Education Update

Charter School Funding

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Budget conducted a public hearing on HB 137, sponsored by Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs). This bill requires charter schools and each school district to include an annual independent audit to verify pupil residency. The bill also requires school districts to pay for each pupil attending a charter school in that district based on the formula established in the bill. 

The provisions include all state aid and local aid received by the school district divided by the school district's total weighted average daily attendance and all charter schools within the school district. The bill defines "local aid" to include all local and county revenue received by the school district and charter schools within the school district, with specific examples and exclusions specified in the bill. School districts must calculate the amount of local aid owed to a charter school monthly and make timely payments to the charter school as outlined in the bill. 

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall conduct an annual review of school districts' payments with measures for over and underpayment as outlined in the bill. This bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022, and replaces the current funding mechanism for charter schools, which will no longer apply after June 30, 2022.

The sponsor stated this legislation would allow for more manageable cash flow for districts that already operate charter schools and addresses equitable funding and the budget cliff facing charter schools.

Testifying in support were representatives from Crossroads Charter Schools, Gordon Parks Elementary Charter School, Confluence Academies, and a private citizen.

Testifying in opposition were representatives from Kansas City School District, St. Louis Public School District, School District Administrators Association, and Missouri NEA. Opponents noted specific tax levies in different school districts, which could make adding any additional tax levies difficult for school districts.

The committee took no further action on the measure.

Aligned Priorities 

Competency Based Education Grant Program 

The Senate Education Committee convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss SB 33, sponsored by Senator Lauren Arthur (D-Kasnas City). The bill establishes the Competency-Based Education Grant Program to provide fund to eligible school districts for the purpose of providing competency-based education programs. Additionally, the bill creates the Competency-Based Education Task Force to study and develop competency-based education programs in public schools for the purpose to identify promising competency-based education programs and obstacles to implementing such programs and requires the task force to report their findings to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Joint Committee on Education, and the State Board of Education before December 1, every year. 

Testifying in support were representatives from Excellence in Education in Action, Aligned, Associated Industries of Missouri, Missouri NEA, and Missouri Alliance for Arts Education.

No opposing testimony was recorded. 

Show Me Success Diploma Program

The Senate Education Committee convened Tuesday afternoon to discuss SB 34, sponsored by Senator Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City). The bill establishes the Show Me Success Diploma Program and creates an alternative pathway for high school students to graduate. Students will be able to earn the show me success diploma beginning at the end of a student's tenth grade year and requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop detailed requirements for students to become eligible for the show me success diploma by July 1, 2022. The sponsor stated the intent of the bill is to provide students with flexibility and another alternative to earning a diploma. 

Testifying in support were representatives from Excellence in Education in Action, Aligned, and Associated Industries of Missouri

No opposing testimony was recorded. 
Local Sales Tax for Early Childhood 

The Senate Local Government Committee convened Wednesday afternoon to discuss SB 123, sponsored by Senator Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield). The bill would allow municipalities to impose one or more sales taxes for purposes to be designated by the taxing jurisdiction, provided that the total combined rate of local sales taxes imposed by a taxing entity that is an incorporated city, town, or village shall not exceed 4.5%; the total combined rate of local sales taxes imposed by a county shall not exceed 3.25%; and for all other taxing jurisdictions, the total combined rate of sales taxes in any given taxing jurisdiction shall not exceed 3.25%. Such limits shall not apply to transient guest taxes or convention and tourism taxes. During bill presentation, the sponsor indicated this bill is an ongoing work in progress and has been filed to initiate a conversation. 

Testifying in support were representatives from Aligned, MO Retailers Association, and Municipal League of Metro St. Louis

No opposing testimony was provided. 

Click here for a schedule of upcoming hearings and our tracking report.
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

It was the first full week since the 2021 Legislative Session began, and committees took advantage of each day to hear and act on dozens of bills. Lawmakers introduced 119 bills alone this week. Monday marks the deadline when all individual requests for bills must be completed.

Education policy received considerable attention as bills ranging from education savings accounts to expanding dual credits to all students received hearings.

Kansas Promise Act

Education committees are looking again at the Kansas Promise Act, which Governor Laura Kelly vetoed last session due to the legislation's cost. The Senate Education Committee introduced SB 43, which creates the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act. This proposal would provide post-secondary educational scholarships for high demand two-year associate degree programs, career and technical education certificates, and other stand-alone programs. The House Commerce Committee introduced HB 2182, a similar bill with additional language requiring schools to provide insurance coverage for high school students participating in job training opportunities. Neither bill has received a hearing.

Aligned supports the Kansas Promise Act and its sister bill HB 2182 as one of our legislative priorities.

Dual Enrollment Bill

The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on SB 32, a bill that would authorize school districts to pay the tuition for a student's dual or concurrent enrollment in a post-secondary educational institution and require a tuition waiver for foster children dually or concurrently enrolled. Several organizations testified in support of this bill, including the Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Chamber, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, Wichita Chamber, Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas Independent College Association, and Wichita Public Schools.

Aligned supports the Dual Enrollment bill as one of our primary legislative priorities.

Next week in Kansas

We expect the House K-12 Education Committee to vote next week on HB 2068. This bill would amend the tax credit for low-income student's scholarship program act to expand student eligibility. This bill is identical to SB 61.

The Senate Education Committee will hold hearings on the following legislation:
  • SB 63 expands the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools.
  • SB 51 requires the state department of education and the department for children and families to publish a Kansas foster care children academic report card.

The House Education Committee will hold hearings on the following legislation:

  • HB 2039 requires students to pass an American civics test to graduate with a high school diploma.
  • HB 2119 creates the student empowerment act to provide an education savings account for academically at-risk students.

Biz leaders get scoop on hot education topics
Earlier today, Aligned's Torree Pederson, along with School Smart Kansas City, hosted a virtual BizEd Insiders event to explore the immediate needs and implications of COVID-19 as well as the data that guides the definition of success. The goal is to use this unique opportunity to expedite the transformation of education.

Close to 30 business leaders attended and learned about teacher shortage solutions including differentiated teacher pay, and alternative certification and we highlighted areas enjoying momentum like competency-based educationpre-K expansion, real-world learning, and a COVID-19 Relief Technology Fund.

If you would like to attend next month's event on February 26th, please reach out to Torree Pederson directly at Torree@WeAreAligned.org.
What's next

The majority of our focus in the coming weeks will be presenting testimony on our Aligned Priority Agenda. 

We have a full team of experts on staff and encourage you to reach out if you have ANY questions on what is happening in our state legislatures. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442