February 11, 2016

Senate moving for state takeover of KC schools (AUDIO)

The state senate is on the verge of passing a plan that lets the state education department move in immediately when a school district loses accreditation. The Kansas City district is the first target.

The Kansas City District lost state accreditation on January 1, 2012. Present law says the state cannot take over the district until mid-2014. Senate education chairman David Pearce says, “That’s too long.  We have students who are languishing that need help and we as the state need to come in and do that.”

Pearce and other supporters of the bill say there’s no reason for the state not to take control as soon as accreditation is lost and set up a special board to get student performance back to proper levels.  Independence Senator Paul LeVota calls the issue a regional and state issue, noting, “It hurts our economic growth in the Kansas City area…How do we compete with Kansas?  Well the way Kansas has beat us in the past is through good schools.  Missouri needs to have the best schools and the Kansas City district is part of that.”

The bill allows the state commissioner of education to delay action until the latest test scores indicate if the elected school board has turned things around.    Scores for the Kansas City district will become available in August.

Missouri has two other unaccredited school districts– Normandy and Riverview Gardens. The failed Wellston district was disbanded. Eleven districts are provisionally accredited, including St. Louis, which moved off the unaccredited list last fall after several years under a special administrative board.

The senate probably will send the bill to the House tomorrow.

  Audio: Senate debate 56:23