April 19, 2014

School transfer proposal to be a focus for House in next two weeks

Attempts to fix issues with Missouri’s student transfer law will be one of the focuses in the last four weeks of the legislative session.

Representative Rick Stream (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Rick Stream (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Numerous lawmakers and groups have been working this session on possible changes to a 1993 law that lays out how students can transfer from districts that have lost accreditation to better-performing districts. That law has caused financial problems in unaccredited districts, who must pay for those transfers.

Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) is the handler of a Senate transfer fix bill (SB 493) that will be brought up in a House committee Tuesday.  Stream hopes the bill can clear the committee Tuesday and reach the House Floor the following Monday, three weeks before the end of the session.

He says it is a priority for House leadership. “The Speaker and the Floor Leader have promised to move it quickly … we’re going to move this bill fast.”

That bill, which cleared the Senate in February, already proposes determining whether individual school buildings are accredited and only removing an entire district’s accreditation if 55 percent of its buildings are unaccredited, disallowing transfers for students who have not lived in an unaccredited school’s jurisdiction for less than a calendar year, and allowing students to transfer to private, non-religious schools or accredited buildings in the same or an adjacent county.

Stream says after talking to many lawmakers in both parties and both chambers, education groups and the Legislative Black Caucus, three key changes to the Senate bill will be considered Tuesday.

One would be to ask sending districts to pay 70 percent of their own tuition to the school districts taking their students, rather than 90 percent of a receiving district’s rate as is currently written in the Senate legislation.

“That stabilizes what the sending districts are going to have to pay each year,” says Stream. He says that will make it easier for sending districts to budget for transfers. “They didn’t know this year how much money they were going to have to send out because kids were leaving and going to different districts … anywhere from Clayton which was $20,000 to Ladue which was $17,000, to Kirkwood which was $12,000, to Francis Howell which was $11,000.”

A second change would add charter schools to the places a student in an unaccredited school building can transfer.

“If our goal is to get all of the students in these unaccredited districts into a high-quality educational environment right away, then we have to give them the options to do that.”

A third alteration would have review teams help districts on the verge of unaccreditation figure out how to stop sliding.

“We put in a lot of assistance or review teams,” Stream tells Missourinet, “to come in and analyze what’s going on in these provisionally accredited districts and borderline accredited districts to help them turn their districts around so they don’t eventually slide in to unaccreditation or provisional accreditation.”

House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says his caucus is trying to build a strong majority of support for student transfer legislation. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has said he opposes allowing the use of state money to pay for students to transfer to private schools, which SB 493 would.

Missourinet asked Jones if Republican leaders are gearing up for the possibility that Nixon would veto the transfer bill and they would have to try and overturn him.

“Everything’s going to have to be on the table to solve an issue that is extremely important for us to solve this year,” says Jones.

MU Athletic Director confirms Frank Haith departure, Haith talks to ESPN

The University of Missouri’s athletic director says basketball coach Frank Haith has taken the job of head coach at Tulsa and will be announced in a news conference at 1.

Mike Alden says Haith informed him of his decision in a text message this morning. MU assistant Tim Fuller will serve as interim coach but Alden hasn’t revealed candidates for a permanent replacement.

Haith was due to make $1.7-million for the 2013-14 season. His contract at MU was to have run through the 2016-17 season, and he will owe the University $500,000 for terminating that deal early.

ESPN reports Haith has been given a seven-year contract at Tulsa that will pay an average of $1.85-million a year. Haith also told ESPN he would take his Missouri staff with him, though one assistant was said to be pursuing another job and so might not go to Tulsa.

Haith tells ESPN he was attracted in part by the fact that the national champion came out of the American Athletic Conference, where Tulsa is moving next season.

“This has been a great basketball job at Tulsa with a great tradition with Tubby Smith, Nolan Richardson and most recently with Danny Manning,” Haith told ESPN. “There is great leadership here at Tulsa and they are showing a great commitment.”

This will be the third time Haith has guided a team through transition between conferences, first when the University of Miami moved from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference and then when the Tigers went from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference.

Suspect arrested in Kansas City area highway shootings

Police in Kansas City have arrested a man believed to be responsible for a series of shootings on highways throughout the city and surrounding region in recent weeks.

“Highway shooter suspect in custody,” Police Chief Darryl Forté announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

The Kansas City Star reports police raided a residence in Grandview and made the arrest. They towed away a vehicle with an Illinois license plate. Forté later said he could not release the man’s name or more details but said he wanted to make the arrest known. He said no charges have been filed and an investigation continues.

Three people were injured in the shootings that began March 8. Authorities believe 12 shootings are related, mostly in Kansas City but some in surrounding communities.

Deer won’t be livestock (AUDIO)

An effort to consider a new animal as “livestock” has run out of time in the state Senate.

The new animal is deer.   Senator Brad Lager of Savannah had hoped to pass a bill this year considering captive deer as livestock under control of the state Agriculture Department.   The  Conservation Department would still take care of deer in the wild.  “The captive deer industry has grown immensely  in this country,” he says.

Lager maintains venison producers run their captive deer operations the same way cattle farmers operate their livestock operations.

But Senator Jolie Justus, whose district includes several central and eastern Missouri rural areas, says it’s not as simple as that.  “If they were just being raised for food, it would seem like those would be livestock…but I was told these were being raised to be hunted,” she says.  And in that case, she suggests, hunting is the province of the conservation department. 

But this is the time of year when the clock determines the fate of a lot of bills, and this is one that didn’t have time for extended discussion.  Lager has shelved it and the senate is unlikely to get back to it.

AUDIO: debate 15:20

Haith reportedly close to leaving MU for Tulsa job

It appears Frank Haith is on the way out as Mizzou head basketball coach.

Frank Haith

Frank Haith

Haith is reportedly in negotiations to become the head basketball coach at Tulsa. ESPN.com is citing one unnamed source as saying that Haith has verbally agreed to the Tulsa job and that he is traveling to Tulsa to finalize the deal.

Haith just finished his third season at Missouri in which it missed the NCAA tournament despite a talented roster. His is also one of the Mizzou athletic programs that has suffered off-the-playing-surface problems lately with the arrest and dismissal of Louisville transfer Zach Price.

Haith is believed to have 3 years left on his contract at Mizzou, at $1.5-million a year. CBSSports.com cites sources as saying Tulsa is willing to pay him more than $1-million.