Weekly Update
April 2, 2021
We're official!
When Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 21-01 in late January to create an Office of Childhood, a required 60-day "review" period started. This window would allow the General Assembly to reject the order via resolution. This week marked the end of that review period. We are thrilled to announce that plans are officially underway to consolidate programs from various state departments into one centrally-located Office of Childhood, housed in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The new office will be officially official on August 28th, 2021. 

Aligned has worked behind the scenes with the Children's Trust Fund of Missouri and Kids Win Missouri to make recommendations on governance policy for early care and education. 

Both Kansas and Missouri received among the lowest early childhood education integration scores, ranking 45th and 48th, respectively. 

BPC developed a scoring methodology to evaluate program organization and integration. Specific factors considered included:
  • The number of state agencies involved in administering core early care and education programs;
  • Whether funding was centralized or split across state agencies;
  • Where states housed child care, state Pre-K, and nutritional services;
  • The institutional home of the Head Start Collaboration Office
The scoring system also looked at factors related to quality rating and improvement systems and utilization of federal matching dollars. 

In 2019, both Kansas and Missouri received Preschool Development Grant funding for Birth through 5 (PDG B-5) which has allowed the states to conduct needs assessments, develop strategic plans and implement practices to improve professional development and family engagement. 

It's an understatement to say that much work remains; however, Aligned is honored to be part of the team working to help advise on how to build a more substantial infrastructure for early care and education

That said, we paused for a celebratory moment this week to acknowledge the tremendous leadership by Governor Parson and his team for having the wisdom and courage to make the Office of Childhood a reality. 
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

Bills moving...

Real-World Learning

Senate Committee on Education heard HB 265 (Eslinger) this week, which contains many of the provisions in HB 101 (Pollitt). Aligned's Dr. Stacey Preis testified in favor and said, "We like everything included in this bill and are very pleased to see such forward-thinking ideas put together in a very thoughtful bill."

This legislation includes the following provisions:
  • removes the requirement that Visiting Scholars certificate only apply to business-education partnerships and expands that to any career pathway program;
  • allows schools to apply for innovation waivers;
  • requires students to develop individual career and academic plans;
  • requires the completion of the free application for federal student aid as a requirement of graduation;
  • requires the Department of Higher Education and Workforce to establish a procedure to ease aid applications for career and technical education students;
  • extends benefit protections for retired teachers employed to as a teacher shortage initiative;
  • caps the number of retired teachers working for a school district.
Aligned supports expanding Visitings Scholars to apply to hard-to-staff school and hard-to-fill subject areas and will be working to have those provisions added through the amendment process.

The Senate Committee on Education will hear SB 448 (Rowden) next week, a stand-alone Visiting Scholars expansion bill that includes our priority provisions. 

Early Care and Education

Three early childhood priority bills are still in the rules committees.

HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that extends the sunset on the Quality Assurance Report remains in the committee on Rules-Legislative Oversight

HB 973 (Shields) - a bill that increases the amount of state aid districts and charters can claim for Pre-K remains in the committee on Rules-Administrative Oversight

HB 865 (Shields) - a bill that gives counties the authority to seek voter-approved property tax increases and establish local early childhood boards for early childhood education remains in the committee on Rules-Legislative Oversight

Innovative Practices

HB 624 (Richey), the Show-Me Success Diploma program, also includes language to establish a competency-based task force will be heard in Senate Committee on Education on April 6th.

SB 152 (Hoskins), an education savings plan bill that includes the competency-based education grant program and task force from SB 33 and SB 34, is in the House but has not been referred to a committee.

Other education legislation

CHARTER EQUITY FUNDINGOn Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education met in executive session to vote "do pass" SB 218, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) by a vote of 7-1. This act modifies the calculation of the amount a school district with one or more pupils attending a charter school shall pay to the charter school. 

21ST CENTURY MISSOURI EDUCATION TASK FORCEOn Tuesday, the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education met in executive session to vote "do pass" HB 581, sponsored by Rep. Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal) by a vote of 18-1.  This bill establishes the "21st Century Missouri Education Task Force". The task force's mission includes evaluation of current educational process and funding including the use of technology and artificial intelligence to improve student outcomes. 

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATIONOn Tuesday, the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education met in executive session to vote "do pass" HB 101, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Pollitt (R-Sedalia) by a vote of 12-7. This bill provides a definition for a "school innovation team" and for a "school innovation waiver" and allows school innovation teams to submit a plan to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for a state innovation waiver for a variety of purposes as outlined in the bill. 

The committee adopted a substitute that better defines the purpose of the Visiting Scholars programThe bill was referred to the House Committee on Rules-Legislative Oversight

SPECIAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTOn Monday, the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education conducted a public hearing on HB 64, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Pike (R-Adrian). This bill specifies that a school district shall submit the cost of serving any high-needs student with an IEP to DESE

RECOVERY HIGH SCHOOLSOn Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education met in executive session and voted  "do pass" SB 259, sponsored by Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin (R-Shelbina), by a vote of 8-0. Under this act, a recovery charter high school may be operated in an urban school district containing most or all of Kansas City.  This act defines a "recovery charter high school" as a charter school for students in grades nine through twelve who are in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency

For more details read the complete Capitol Report.

Access the Aligned Priority Tracking Report here.
Legislative News

Here are a few toplines from activity this week:
  • An estimated 880,000 Missourians became eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination Monday under Phase 2 of the state's vaccine rollout plan.
  • Former Democratic state Rep. Courtney Curtis was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Wednesday for using campaign funds for his own personal expenses
  • On Thursday, a bi-partisan group of Senators filibustered the appointment of Todd Graves as a curator for the University of Missouri. Graves is brother to Congressman Sam Graves and former Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
  • The decision by House Republicans to not fund Medicaid expansion dominated headlines this week. Many believe that the Senate will restore some funding for the expansion which would lead to interesting conference committee proceedings between the two chambers.
Budget Update

This week the House finished crafting their version of the $34.1 billion FY 2022 budget. Below are some of the key points of the House budget. 
  • Fully funds the foundation formula for elementary and secondary education,
  • Restores $67 million to higher education for core funding.
  • MO Excels reduced by $19,247,481 as Chairman Smith indicated federal funds will be available to fund the remaining project requests.
  • $2 million added to each State Tech and Missouri Southern State University's cores.
  • Requires each department to report to the General Assembly if any federal grant uses more than 5% in administrative costs.
  • Reduces the cost-share road program by $25 million as it has been indicted additional federal funds may be used.
  • Funding to address the arrearages owed to counties for the housing and transportation of prisoners.
  • 2% raise for state workers with the possibility of additional raises due to performance funding incentives.
  • A rate increase for home based community services.
  • A $30 million one-time funding increase for long-term facility services. 
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Working at a fevered pace, the House passed 23 bills from their chamber early this week. The Senate stayed an extra day on Wednesday to pass 38 bills. Despite the short week, the legislature acted on several key measures that have dominated much of this year's discussions. This action clears the path for next week's final budget negotiations before First Adjournment (April 9th), and any potential veto overrides that typically close out the legislative session in May during the Veto Session. 

Budget Crunch Time

On the last day scheduled for regular floor action, the House debated both base and school finance budgets. Much of the debate centered on more minor budget issues. However, an effort to expand Medicaid was defeated by a vote of 46-78

Wichita Democrat Henry Helgerson offered a surprise amendment proposing a 2% across the board cut to the State General Fund. After a short debate, the amendment passed on a voice vote. This move gives the House a stronger position when negotiations with the Senate begin next week.  
Sub for House Bill 2119 narrowly passed Tuesday after a 2-hour floor debate by a vote of 65 to 58. Some call this legislation the "Frankenstein bill" because of the way lawmakers stitched the provisions together. The bill includes the following:
  • reauthorizes the statewide 20-mill property tax for support of public schools;
  • outlines the State Board of Education's role in distributing federal pandemic relief funding for schools;
  • includes a $500 bonus for teachers from the federal COVID-19 grants to education;
  • Moves the per-pupil dollar amount given to public schools into an education savings account for students to use toward private school tuition;
  • limits funding for remote-learning options;
  • expands school-choice options, including up to $8,000 in tax credits per student/per year applied in private education circumstances.
The House also approved HB 2397, which would cut the state budget two percent below Governor Laura Kelly's budget plan, including a two percent reduction ($48.8M) in Gannon funding that the legislature approved last year.

Two weeks ago, the Senate approved its budget bill, SB 267. This bill has been a topic of discussion among education groups as it will cut $570 million in state school aid and high-density, at-risk funding, replacing it with federal COVID-19 relief funds. Most federal funds include Title 1 requirements for disbursement, which come with some very hard and fast rules:
  • Federal funds must supplement, not supplant state/local funds;
  • Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is a requirement that state/local funding levels must be maintained from one year to the next; 
  • Comparability is to ensure that before adding federal dollars, districts must ensure comparable services across schools.  
Having two different House-approved school finance plans makes it unclear how the House will negotiate with the Senate. However, it is likely all these proposals - the policies in HB 2119 and the funding in HB 2119, HB 2397 and SB 267 - will be hashed out in a conference committee and there will be further floor votes in the House and Senate on K-12 education.

Lawmakers tabled more budget items until the end of April for what is known as the Omnibus portion of the budget process. Plenty of work remains.

Bills on the move

HB2039 was voted do pass by the Senate this week, requiring students to pass a civics test before graduating high school.  This bill was amended to include a provision that students would also need to take a financial literacy course for graduation.  This bill will now go to the House, which previously approved the bill without amendments.
SB 91, the Real-World Learning liability bill, was blessed by leadership this week and is expected to be acted on next week.  
HB 2085, the students' right to know act to provide information on postsecondary education options to better prepare students for the workforce, was passed by the Senate this week.  
HB 2287, the Promise Act bill, was not acted upon this week, but it is on General Orders in the Senate next week for action.
SB 32 would allow school districts, at the discretion of the local board of education, to pay all or a portion of the costs of tuition, fees, books, materials, and equipment for any high school student who is concurrently or dually enrolled at a postsecondary educational institution (postsecondary institution). Passed by the Senate in early February, this bill was recommended do pass by the House Committee on Education. This may receive a floor vote later next week.
Looking back on 2020
From our 2020 Annual Report...

"With the regular legislative sessions in both Kansas and Missouri cut short, we received a gift of time that allowed us to nurture and grow the relationships that sustain our organization, which is our members. We strengthened vital partnerships that will shape our work in the years to come. And we invested in programs to develop and expand our expertise."

In 2020 we achieved the following:

  • Increased our business leader membership by 50 percent
  • Established a St. Louis Advisory Board
  • Retooled our vision and mission
  • Completed a new strategic plan
  • Delivered 15 presentations
  • Published 21 weekly and 13 special reports
  • Earned certificates in education finance from Georgetown University's Edunomics program.
Have a great weekend and please let us know if you have any questions.

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442