State lawmakers who backed a bill to deal with Missouri’s student transfer law say Governor Jay Nixon (D) will announce tomorrow that he will veto it.
Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal told Missourinet one of the governor’s staff members confirmed that to her.
“I was really hopeful this year,” Chappelle-Nadal said, adding that supporters made about five changes since last year’s legislation, that he also vetoed, that were in line with the concerns he outlined to lawmakers in December.
House sponsor David Wood also says he’s hearing Nixon will announce a veto, and says part of what will allow the governor to do that is an agreement among 22 school districts in the St. Louis area to help the struggling Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts. Under that agreement, some of those districts will limit the tuition they charge Normandy and Riverview Gardens to send students to them, and those two districts will get $500,000 apiece to support reading and literacy programs.
“I believe the cards fell right for [Nixon to veto the bill],” said Wood. “There’s a lot of us that have worked for a very long time and very hard to come up with this product, and to see all that work go by the wayside is very disappointing.”
Senate handler of the bill, David Pearce, said he believes Nixon will cite to provisions in the legislation as reasons for his veto.
“I think the two reasons given will probably be, one is an expansion of virtual schools, and the other one is that there was not a hard cap on tuition for those students going into receiving districts,” said Pearce. “I felt that we addressed those. I really feel that we had a reasonable expansion of virtuals, which the governor said he would entertain, and then I do think that we provided incentives for districts to have a reduction of tuition and that would benefit everyone.”
Chappelle-Nadal says the agreement reached this week is only a temporary fix.
“I’m glad that’s happening now, but it’s simply a Band-Aid. By focusing merely on the tuition -that’s part of the equation – the other part of it, which is the true goal of working so hard for the last two-and-a-half years is to give adequate education to children who are in need.”
Chappelle-Nadal says 79.4-percent of the student population in each unaccredited building in Missouri is African-American.
“That is separate and unequal,” said Chappelle-Nadal, who accused Nixon of a, “continued lack of leadership.”
The bill would allow expansion of charter and virtual schools in St. Louis and Jackson County, let students transfer from poor-performing schools to better-performing ones in the same district, charter schools, or a virtual school, and would have the Department of Education accredit schools within districts.
The bill passed the state Senate with 23 votes; just enough to overturn a veto, but it received only 84 favorable votes in the House, well short of the 109 needed to overturn.
Wood doesn’t think enough votes can be flipped in the House to reach 109.
“We struggled to get 84 votes. I think we could probably get 90 to 95 if we worked really hard, but I do not see any way we get to 109,” said Wood.
Nixon is scheduled to announce his action on the bill tomorrow at 11:45 at Parkview High School in Springfield and at 2:30 at Ritenour High School in St. Louis.