SCS/SBs 369 & 370 – This act modifies provisions relating to school enrollment. Current law provides that the school board of an unaccredited school district must pay the tuition and transportation for resident students who attend an accredited school in another district of the same or an adjoining county. This act establishes a scholarship program to allow resident students of an unaccredited district to enroll in an approved nonpublic school, charter school, virtual school, or accredited school district and adds enrollment procedures for students to follow when changing school districts. In addition, this act adds options for school districts to educate nonresident students and gives new enrollment options to resident students of an unaccredited district.
CHARTER SCHOOLS: Charter schools may operate in any accredited school district that may receive students from an unaccredited school district and may enroll resident students of the unaccredited district under section 167.131. A charter school that begins operation may continue to operate if the unaccredited district becomes classified as accredited or provisionally accredited. In addition, charter schools may be sponsored by: the school board of a district in collaboration with another district; the State Board of Education in an unaccredited district; the mayor of St. Louis City in an unaccredited district; or by the school board of an accredited district in an unaccredited district.
This act allows charter schools to charge tuition. A charter school that enrolls nonresident pupils from an unaccredited district may receive a scholarship or tuition payments for those students. (Sections 160.400, 160.410, 160.415, 160.420)
SCHOOL FUNDING: This act requires that a school district's weighted average daily attendance count be adjusted so that it will not receive state aid for any pupil who is no longer enrolled in the district as a result of transferring under subsections 3 to 20 of section 167.131. (Section 163.031)
TRANSFER PROCEDURES: Student transfers will be administered by the "administrator," which shall be the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or a neutral third party appointed by the Department. Students residing in an unaccredited district may enroll in an accredited district, an approved nonpublic school, virtual school, or charter school in the same or an adjoining county.
An approved nonpublic school must meet the criteria established in the act, which includes having a higher graduation rate, lower dropout rate, higher rate of student matriculation rate to higher education institutions, higher average ACT scores, and higher average scores on statewide assessments or nationally-norm referenced assessment, as described in the act, than the unaccredited district. A nonpublic school that receives students under this act must be approved by the mayor of St. Louis City or the county executive or presiding commissioner of the county in which it is located, as applicable.
This act requires the student's parent or guardian to notify the child's school district of residence and the student transfer administrator by March 15 of the intent to change the child's enrollment on an application prescribed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. If a parent fails to provide notification by March 15, he or she may do so until May 15 provided that the parent has good cause to do so, as described in the act. The parent or guardian may withdraw the request at any time prior to the start of the school year.
No accredited district is required to accept a nonresident pupil unless the pupil has been rejected by five schools. After five rejections, the administrator must assign the pupil to an accredited district that is located within a thirty mile radius of the district boundary line closest to the pupil's residence, as described in the act. Five rejections will only be required for the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts and any other district where at least five education options, other than accredited districts, exist within a thirty mile radius of the district of residence. Assignments will be made on a pro-rata basis, taking into account whether a district has already accepted any nonresident pupils, and if so, how many. The administrator must make counselors available to assist parents to enroll their child, who must advise the parent on education options available to the pupil and assist them in preparing any necessary applications or additional paperwork. The parent or guardian must identify five educational options for the administrator. At least one accredited district must be listed on the form if approved by the parent. The student transfer administrator must enroll the pupil in one of the five identified options, based on availability. If none of the options are available, the administrator must advise the parent on additional options that may be available. The student transfer administrator must obtain separate approval from the parent or guardian prior to enrolling the child in a program consisting mainly of virtual education. A pupil who enrolls in one of his or her five selected options may return to the school district of residence but may not enroll in another school under this section until the following school year.
The expenses associated with the administration of pupil transfers will be defrayed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education retaining funds from the funding withheld from the student's district of residence. This amount cannot exceed five hundred dollars per pupil.
A student who seeks to enroll in a charter school must follow existing procedures. (Section 167.131)
AMOUNT OF SCHOLARSHIP: The scholarship amount depends on the geographic location of the student's school district of residence. For the St. Louis City School District and Kansas City School District, the amount would be the cost of attendance at the receiving school, or two-thirds of the district of residence's per pupil expenditure, whichever is less. For all other districts, the scholarship amount will be the per pupil expenditure of the receiving school or the pupil's district of residence, whichever is less. The scholarship shall also include the amount needed to transport the pupil to and from school. (Section 167.131)
RECORDS: School districts must keep a record of all transfers requested into and out of the district. These records must be reported annually in the school report card, posted on the school district's website, and reported annually to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (Section 167.131)
OPTIONS FOR A RECEIVING DISTRICT TO EDUCATE NONRESIDENT PUPILS: This act provides different options for receiving districts to educate nonresident students. First, a receiving district may enroll nonresident students in existing school facilities located within the district. Second, a receiving district may purchase or lease additional facilities, or use vacant school buildings located in another school district, and operate such facilities as part of the district with teachers employed by the district. Schools may use virtual education at such facilities. A receiving district may also collaborate with a charter school. Third, a receiving district may contract with an educational management company to educate nonresident pupils. Fourth, the receiving district's school board may sponsor charter schools and allow the nonresident students to attend. The school board of an accredited school district may also sponsor a charter school. Nonresident pupils may also attend any other charter school operating in the district. (Sections 160.400 and 167.131)
ADMINISTRATION OF STATEWIDE ASSESSMENTS: Any accredited school district that enrolls nonresident students under this act must administer the statewide assessments to them. The results must be reported in aggregate form. Any approved nonpublic school must inform and advise transfer students about the MAP test and refer them to the local school district; it may also administer the MAP test for those students. An approved nonpublic school may also administer a nationally recognized norm-referenced assessment, as described in the act. (Section 167.131)
TUITION AND TRANSPORTATION PAYMENTS: The school board of the unaccredited district must pay the tuition and transportation of its resident pupils who enroll in another school under this section. Tuition will be based on the cost of maintaining the grade level grouping in the receiving school.
The unaccredited district must report to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the number of its resident pupils who enroll in another educational option under this section and the amount of tuition paid on behalf of each student. The Department must withhold the weighted state aid attributable to the pupil from the district of residence's state aid payments. The Department will use these funds to pay the tuition to the receiving schools, as described in the act. If the pupil attends an approved nonpublic school, the Department will send a check to the approved nonpublic school that is payable to the pupil's parent or guardian. The parent or guardian must restrictively endorse the check to the receiving approved nonpublic school. The school must credit the funds to the student's account.
Current law requires the unaccredited district to pay for the student's transportation. The student transfer administrator will be responsible for coordinating transportation for the transfer students. The student's parent or guardian may transport the student to the receiving district without reimbursement. In addition, the parent may transport the student to and from a point on a regular school bus route of the receiving district. (Sections 167.131, 167.241)
LENGTH OF TRANSFER PROGRAM: Student transfers will continue until the unaccredited district has been classified as accredited for five consecutive years. However, any pupil who has enrolled in another school may continue to attend that school and complete all grade levels offered in the school or school district. If the pupil's school does not offer all grade levels necessary for graduation, the pupil may transfer to another school to do so. (Section 167.131)
PUBLIC INFORMATION: Each school district must provide information to the parents and guardians of its pupils about each public school option available to them. This information must be included in the parent handbook and on its internet website. (Section 167.131)
SCHOOL DISTRICT TUITION POLICY: This act prohibits a school district, including any special school district, from adopting or maintaining a policy prohibiting the payment of tuition from a nonresident pupil. (Section 167.151)
PLACEMENT OF TRANSFER STUDENTS: When a pupil transfers into an accredited district, it must provide the pupil and parent with a written explanation of the enrollment and grade level placement policies. It must review the pupil's course work, test scores, and transcript, as described in the act. The district must provide a determination of the placement to the student and parent within thirty calendar days of the request for enrollment. (Section 171.171)
SCHOOL FACILITIES: This act also allows school districts to operate property it owns in another district for resident students of an unaccredited district who are enrolled in an accredited district under Section 167.131. In addition, any unaccredited school district that owns school buildings that have not been used for classroom instruction for two consecutive school years must sell them or make them available for use by an accredited school district, charter school, virtual school, approved nonpublic school, or nonpublic school free of charge. Maintenance, upkeep, and utility services will be the responsibility of the entity using the facility. If the district becomes accredited without provision, and remains accredited for five years, any buildings must be returned to it. The district may also sell the buildings but any sale or lease terms must not include a restriction on using the facilities for educational purposes. (Sections 177.011 & 177.015)
This act contains a severability clause. (Section 1)
This act will only become effective upon the repeal of Article IX, Section 8, and the repeal of the portion of Article I, Section 7 that prohibits the use of public funds for religious purposes. (Section B)