Weekly Update
April 16, 2021
State boards take firm stands
The state education boards in Missouri and Kansas met this week. From their packed agendas, we pulled out a few nuggets. 

Missouri highlights
  • The board received a report on the Normandy Schools collaborative and discussed community concerns relating to Superintendent Marcus Robinson who lacks required state leadership credentials. State Board Member Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge, who leads information systems audit for Edward Jones, was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as saying, "This is not just disagreement with some decisions, this is a belief that the district leadership is not acting in the best interest of the community." The board will meet in coming weeks in a special session to discuss potential actions.
  • The board received an update on the state's COVID-19 response and the results from a pilot project that examined the impact of school-based mitigation strategies. Some of the findings include that transmission in school is rare and less than a third of schools in the study implemented social distancingSee all the results here. *Note: This link from DESE had a report from the Commissioner's Education Policy Committee in the middle of the COVID report so just scroll through.
Kansas highlights
  • The board acted on a process for distribution of ESSER III and EANS II federal funds to support COVID-19 response efforts in Kansas schools.
  • The board received a report on how school districts teach financial literacy through multiple content standards.
It was tulip time at the Missouri Capitol this week. Photo Credit: Linda Rallo
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

Bills moving...

Real-World Learning

Rep. Mike Henderson offered his language from HB 1304 to HB 922 via amendment during floor debate. The underlying bill deals with statute of limitations issues. Henderson's amendment ensures students and businesses are protected from liability claims when hosting real world learning opportunities. HB 922 is now in fiscal review.

SB 448 (Rowden) - the Visiting Scholars bill that addresses teacher shortages by allowing the State Board of Education to grant temporary teaching certificates for hard-to-staff schools or hard-to-fill subject areas received a hearing in Senate Committee on Education, and we anticipate an executive session vote next week. 

The House also debated HB 439, a bill that would also address the teacher shortage issue by allow districts to grant teaching permits to any individual who does not hold a State Board of Education issued teaching certificate. In its original state, Aligned could not support this bill because it dramatically weakened educator requirements. However, House members adopted several amendments that significantly improved the legislation. 

Early Care and Education

HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that extends the sunset on the Quality Assurance Report was voted "do pass" from the committee on Rules-Legislative Oversight on April 8th.

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 education task force. This bill received a hearing in Senate Committee on Education, and we anticipate an executive session vote next week. 

SB 152 (Hoskins), an education savings plan bill that includes the competency-based education grant program and task force was heard by the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education this week. We expect the committee chair to entertain amendments to this bill next week.

Other education legislation

This week the House perfected HCS HB 137 a.a by a vote of 87-60. Rep. Doug Richey introduced HB 137 to fix a glitch in the funding mechanism for distributing to charter schools their share of local revenue. The bill, as amended, was the culmination of tremendous deliberation between the stakeholders that resulted in compromises from all parties.

To paraphrase the bill sponsor, Rep. Richey, "You know it was a good compromise because no one came away entirely happy or entirely disappointed." A provision to ensure the costs of covering special education for students in school districts and charter schools fairly and equitably was at the heart of the compromise.

The bill as perfected requires that special education costs for all students and the school district's administrative expenses for distributing local revenue should be calculated and set aside first. Following that, local revenue due to the charter schools is calculated and distributed. An additional amendment delays the implementation of the new requirements for three years in St. Louis City, where there is a lawsuit pending between St. Louis Public Schools and the charter schools in St. Louis.

For more details read the Aligned Capitol Report.

Legislative News

Here are a few toplines from the activity this week:
  • Representative Rick Roeber (R-Lee's Summit) submitted a letter of resignation to Speaker Rob Vescovo this week.  Roeber, who succeeded his late wife, was elected to the House last year amid allegations from his adult children that they were abused and sexually mistreated by him.  The Speaker refused to accept his resignation until the Ethics Committee investigation was completed. Read more here. 
  • On Thursday, Representative Jared Taylor (R-Springfield) announced that the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations would suspend all efforts to collect unemployment overpayments while the legislature works to pass legislation relating to that issue. 
  • This week, the House gave first round approval to a bill that would permanently put Missouri on daylight saving account time if three of eight bordering states adopt that time standard.  
  • The Missouri Times reports that Kansas City International Airport has received a $2.4 million natural gas bill in the wake of the two week long cold spell last February. Negotiations between the City of Kansas City and Texas-based natural gas company Symmetry Energy Solutions continue as the company initially lowered the bill to $2.1 million.
Read all the details in our Aligned Capitol Report

Budget Update

The Senate Committee on Appropriations will begin marking up the House budget bills next week. The looming question is whether the Senate will fund the Medicaid expansion initiative which 53% Missouri voters approved in 2020. Expanding Medicaid would require $128 million in state funding to provide health care coverage to 275,000 low-income Missourians. 

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Under the ACA (Affordable Care Act), states would pay no more than 10% of the cost of expanding Medicaid to households with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level guideline, or about $17,775 per year for a single person.
Photo Credit: The Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

It was a quiet week in the Kansas legislature as lawmakers finished up the regular session last Friday, April 9th.   I am sure conversations are stirring as lawmakers failed to pass an education budget before adjournment last week. May 3rd will start the veto session where lawmakers have a couple weeks to tie up any lose ends.

Bills on the move

HB 2039a bill requiring students to pass a civics test and financial literacy course before graduating high school, passed the Senate 25-13 and the House 72-51 last week.  This week, state school board members authorized Chairman Jim Porter and Vice Chairwoman Janet Waugh to meet with Governor Kelly and provide her information on the constitutional and statutory authority of the State Board and local school boards and to ask her to consider that information when she considers HB 2039.  Many expect the Governor to veto the bill.  
SB 91, the Real-World Learning liability bill, was passed by the House by a vote of 123-0 last week.

HB 2085, the students' right to know act, which provides information on postsecondary education options to better prepare students for the workforce, was enrolled and presented to the Governor on Friday, April 9th. 

S Sub for HB2287, the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act was passed by the House with a vote of 115-9 in March.  The Senate Education Committee recommended do-pass.  We look for a vote during veto session as budget numbers solidify.
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) is in House Committee on Appropriations. No change this week.
Education leaders join Aligned board
We gained two thoughtful leaders in recent months and are both honored and thrilled to announced the addition of Dr. Art McCoy and Dr. Shonda Ambers-Phillips the Aligned St. Louis Advisory Board

All about Art and Shonda 

Dr. Art McCoy is the superintendent of the Jennings School District. Under his leadership, multiple graduating classes have achieved 100% graduation and career and college placement. He also created two food hubs, two school-based health clinics, two homeless shelters, and an adult GED program for the community. 

Before his tenure at Jennings, Dr. McCoy served as the Superintendent-in-Residence/Chief Academic Officer of the MIND Research Institute, superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, and was the executive director of the voluntary inter-district choice corporation and student services for the Rockwood School District.

Presently, Dr. McCoy as Saint Louis University's Distinguished Fellow for the School of Education and Geospatial Research. He leads the St. Louis Regional Business Council's STL Works Initiative, coordinates regional responses to the workforce crisis, and serves on numerous executive boards. He also holds the distinction of graduating Magna Cum Laude and, at age 19, was the youngest certified teacher in the state of Missouri, beginning his career as a math teacher in the Rockwood School District. 

Dr. Shonda Ambers-Phillips is the executive director of equity, wellness and inclusion in the Office of Student Services in Kirkwood School District supporting professional school counselors, BJC-Behavioral Health school embedded counselors, nurses and social workers. 

Shonda has served as an educator for the past 22 years as a high school social studies teacher, counselor, coach and administrator prior to moving to the district office.  Shonda earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Alabama A&M University, teaching certification from University of Missouri-St. Louis, a master's degree in school and professional counseling and educational administration and her doctorate in educational administration from Lindenwood University.

Shonda has served as an integral part of implementing district-wide frameworks to interrupt biases, address institutional racism, amplify student voices, apply restorative practices with student discipline, integrate trauma informed care and view all decisions through the lens of equity. Shonda serves as the Children's Division and Foster Care Liaison, Homeless Coordinator, State Safe at Home Application Assistant and handles residency, enrollment and student records. Her passion is advocating for underserved students, many of whom have experienced childhood trauma, the foster care system, or homelessness.   

We are thrilled to have Art and Shonda on our team!
Thanks for all your support.

All our best.

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442