We included full coverage of all education committee activity in our weekly report
Here are a few of the highlights:
Early Childhood Education Services
The House Committee on Children and Families
heard HB 865
, sponsored by Rep. Brenda Shields
(R-St. Joseph). This bill provides authorization for any county or city not within a county (St. Louis City) to levy a property tax to establish an early childhood education board
which shall provide childhood education programs or services. The bill limits the levy to $0.40 per $100
of assessed valuation on real property and includes sample ballot language. The tax shall not go into effect unless approved by the qualified voters.
The sponsor testified that she intended to expand and improve early childhood services
in counties by establishing a way to bring extra local dollars into communities.
Testifying in support were representatives from Aligned
and Kids Win Missour
i. Supporters said that federal funding and the state foundation formula are helpful but do not allocate enough early childhood resources. They also noted that this legislation would allow counties to decide what is best for their communities and that investment in early childhood is a long-term investment in Missouri's workforce
There was no testimony in opposition, and the committee took no further action on the measure.
MO Course Access/Virtual Education
Senate Education Committee heard SB 95
, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder
(R-Lake St. Louis). Currently, students enrolled in the Missouri Course Access
and Virtual School Program
are included in the student enrollment of the school district in which the student physically is enrolled. The two main provisions in the bill would change the way that students can access full-time virtual education, and it would change the way that funding is determined and distributed for full-time virtual students.
The sponsors intent with the legislation is to establish an alternative education program for students and establish the framework for state funding to follow the student instead of the district.
Under existing law, a district or charter school determines whether virtual enrollment is in the best interest of the student. Under SB 95, that responsibility would rest solely with the parent or guardian. Payment for virtual coursework is currently distributed to vendors by the student's resident school district or charter school and is capped at no more than the state adequacy target (an amount used in the funding formula calculation) for full-time virtual students.
OUR TAKE: In SB 95, the funding amount for full-time virtual students-"an amount equal to the average daily attendance for the student's district of residence"-- is not clear.
Average daily attendance is a pupil count, not a monetary amount. Testimony given at the hearing made clear that there are very different interpretations of what that language means.
Numerous parents, along with National Coalition for Public School Options and Connections Academy provided supporting testimony.
The Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, Independence School District, MO Association of School Administrators, Kansas City Public School District, MNEA, and a School Board Member of Nixa Public School provided opposing testimony,
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