House Democrats have their own version of legislation seeking to change Missouri’s school transfer law. It will be sponsored by Representative Margo McNeil (D-Florissant), a former educator who served on the House Interim Education Committee.

McNeil’s bill (HB 1294) is similar to what House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) says he will file next week in that it attempts to provide protections for both sending and receiving school districts. It also offers resources to unaccredited districts to boost preschool education and to allow for more learning time in an effort to help those districts regain accreditation.

Her bill stresses preschool education because of what she heard during the Interim Education Committees stops around the state.

“At every stop, someone talked about how important early childhood education was for closing the achievement gap and increasing test scores, and I think that’s really key to getting those districts back on track.”

McNeil’s bill would create grants available through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for unaccredited and provisionally accredited schools to cover the cost of increasing learning time. It would also cap the amount paid by a sending, unaccredited district to a receiving district at eighty percent of the per-pupil revenue the sending district receives from the state and local sources. The bill also proposes a career planning program for students beginning in sixth grade.

See our earlier story on Stream’s legislation

House Speaker Tim Jones has said that the law is working as it was designed to, to allow students in failing districts an opportunity at a good education, and he doesn’t favor changing it. McNeil says it’s fortunate, then, that his budget director considers changing the transfer law a significant enough issue to file his own bill to that end.

Listen to the interview with Margo McNeil, 8:15