The House Budget Director has filed his version of a bill to fix issues with the state’s school transfer law.
Representative Rick Stream (R), a former Kirkwood school board member, says he wants to ensure that every student in unaccredited schools quickly, not several years from now.
“This has been a big issue for me since I’ve been up here,” says Stream of his eight years in the chamber. “I filed a bill the very first year to do some of the same things. It’s time that we move … the kids that were in first grade then are in ninth grade now and we need to get them some help.”
Stream’s bill would have unaccredited schools sending students to accredited districts pay 70% of the receiving district’s tuition rate and another 5% into a transportation fund.
It would also have accreditation be achieved by school building in provisionally accredited and unaccredited districts, with transfers only happening from unaccredited buildings in unaccredited districts. Receiving districts would not be required to take more students than they have space for in buildings and classrooms, and would establish class size and teacher-pupil ratios.
The bill would have districts with provisional accreditation receive Assistance Teams formed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who would evaluate the operations of the district. The work of those teams would be meant to keep districts from falling further into unaccredited status and to progress toward accreditation.
In unaccredited districts, buildings that are provisionally- or not accredited would be placed under the control of a Statewide School Achievement District. Unaccredited districts would be allowed to lengthen school days and years and modify the calendar to avoid long summer breaks.
The Statewide School Achievement District could give preference to high-quality charter sponsors, operators and educational management organizations for services to a school through the districts on short-term contracts.
Statewide School Achievement Districts would have a 5-year limit on control of an individual school unless steady and sufficient progress is made. Schools would have to maintain an accredited level for 5 years before transferring back to local control.
Students in unaccredited buildings who can prove having lived in the district for the previous 12 months would be allowed to transfer to accredited buildings within the district until they are full. Then those students could transfer to outside accredited districts with available space.
From there, Stream says his bill offers students and parents some school choice options. The bill would give charter schools additional sponsor opportunities and accelerated procedures. Students would also have the option of transferring to a non-private, non-sectarian school in the resident district and receiving district’s geographic area. The school must be accredited, must have been in business at least three years and must administer the MAP test.
Other rules and guidelines cover districts with more than 15,000 students with a Special Administrative Board in place.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says he plans to move the bill quickly.