Legislation to establish four adult high schools in Missouri has been approved by a Senate committee in Jefferson City.
State Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) is sponsoring the bill.
“The adult high school, would put four adult high schools around the state, a really good bipartisan bill we passed in the House I think 141 to 10,” Fitzwater tells the Senate Economic Development Committee. “Really effective program in Indiana, has expanded and is growing into other states.”
Fitzwater says there are 500,000 Missouri adults without a high school diploma, adding that 375,000 of them are on food stamps and have children. He says the bill will help them build skills and earn a diploma.
Under the legislation, the adult high schools would be created in the St. Louis City, Poplar Bluff, Springfield and Columbia areas.
The bill requires the successful bidder to invest at least $2 million in facility infrastructure.
The Senate Economic Development Committee voted 8-1 to approve Fitzwater’s bill this week. State Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) cast the lone no vote.
Senate Economic Development Committee Chairman Jay Wasson (R-Nixa) is handling the Senate version of Fitzwater’s bill.
Wasson tells senators the adult high schools will have crucial “life coaches”.
“That life coach is going to get this person not only in high school, but they’re going to start teaching them classes while they’re in school on soft skills such as how to interview for a job, how to keep a job, why it’s important to have a job,” says Wasson.
Wasson emphasized the importance of the life coaches several times during this week’s hearing.
Missourians would have to be at least 21 to attend the schools, under the bill.
On-site child care would be provided, something MERS Goodwill highlighted during their testimony. MERS Goodwill supports the Fitzwater-Wasson legislation.
The Alliance for Childhood Education (ACE) and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry also testified for the bill. They note that 60 percent of jobs in Missouri will require a postsecondary credential by 2020.
Under the bill, at least 75 percent of the school’s students must graduate each year, or continue working toward a high school diploma or an industry certification.
No one testified against the bill in the Senate committee hearing.