SB 706
Modifies provisions relating to school operations
LR Number:
Last Action:
5/18/2012 - S Informal Calendar S Bills for Perfection--SB 706-Cunningham, with SCS
Journal Page:
SCS SB 706
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
August 28, 2012

Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 706 – This act modifies provisions relating to school operations.

PASSPORT SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: This act establishes the Passport Scholarship Program to grant scholarships to students from unaccredited districts to attend a qualified nonpublic elementary or secondary school.

To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must reside in an unaccredited district. A student will remain eligible until graduation from high school or age twenty-one, whichever occurs earlier. Students will remain eligible even if their district of residence changes because of a boundary line change, annexation, consolidation, reorganization, or dissolution.

Beginning in tax year 2012, a taxpayer may make a qualifying contribution to an approved or qualified educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit. The annual cumulative amount of tax credits is limited at $40 million, which will be increased or decreased based on the consumer price index for the Midwest. The tax credit is for sixty percent of the amount of the contribution, is nonrefundable and may be carried forward for four years.

An educational assistance organization that desires to participate or provide scholarships through the Passport Scholarship Program must meet certain requirements, including being a 501(c)(3) organization; providing a receipt to taxpayers for contributions; ensuring that funds are used as specified in the act; distributing scholarship payments four times per year; providing the Department of Economic Development, upon request, with criminal background checks on all employees and board members; and demonstrating financial accountability and viability, as described in the act.

Each educational assistance organization must ensure that qualified schools: comply with all health and safety laws applicable to nonpublic schools; hold a valid occupancy permit if required; do not discriminate in admissions based on race, color, national origin, or disability; and provide academic accountability to parents. An educational assistance organization must annually and publicly report to the Department information about the organization, information about the scholarship recipients, and the dollar amounts of scholarships awarded.

A qualified school must comply with state laws applicable to public schools for criminal background checks for employees and exclude from employment anyone prohibited from working in a public school. A qualified school's scholarship students may take the statewide assessments, as described in the act. A qualified school must also meet certain accountability measures, including fiscal soundness, accreditation, and surveys of parents and students.

A qualified school is prohibited from accepting a scholarship check that exceeds its standard tuition and fees. If the scholarship amount is insufficient to cover the cost of tuition, a qualified school may charge the parent or guardian the difference between the cost of tuition and the amount of the scholarship.

The Joint Committee on Education must conduct a study of the scholarship program. The Joint Committee may contract with an outside researcher if assistance is needed and funds are available. The study must begin within five years of commencement of the program and must cover a period of five years. (Sections 135.712-135.719)

CHARTER SCHOOLS: This act allows an accredited school district, combination or cooperative association of accredited districts to sponsor or operate a charter school in or for an unaccredited school district, which may enroll resident students of any school district classified as unaccredited. If the district is no longer unaccredited, the charter school may continue to operate. If the school district regains accreditation and the district or cooperative wishes to discontinue the school, it may solicit proposals for the continuation of the school, which will be presented for a vote of the parents or guardians of the students attending the school. Charter schools may enroll students from any unaccredited district. This act contains provisions to address a change in district boundary lines and enrollment of students. In addition, the school board of an unaccredited or provisionally accredited district may close district schools and lease the school building to the governing board of a charter school that it sponsors. The school board of an accredited district may close a district school it deems to need improvement and may lease the school building to the governing board of a charter school that it sponsors.

When a charter school is sponsored by the local school board or a cooperative association, as described in the act, the State Board of Education will have the accountability and enforcement powers of a charter school sponsor under current law.

This act requires school districts to make unused facilities available for lease or purchase to a properly authorized charter schools at or below fair market value. The terms of any sale of a school facility must not include a restriction in the deed that would prohibit the use of facilities by a property authorized charter school. (Section 160.402)

LAPSE OF A SCHOOL DISTRICT: This act removes the two-year waiting period that exists between the classification of a school district as unaccredited and the lapse of the district's corporate organization. Instead, the school district will lapse at the time it becomes unaccredited. This act requires the State Board of Education to only classify school districts accredited, provisionally accredited, or unaccredited. It prohibits the State Board from using "interim accredited" or any similar designation. It prohibits the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary education from advising school districts that they may ignore section 167.131. In addition, the State Board is prohibited from using its authority to classify school districts in such a manner as to circumvent, nullify, or invalidate the right of a student to transfer from an unaccredited district to an accredited district under Section 167.133. (Section 162.081)

INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS AND ACTIVITIES: No school district may become a member of or retain membership in a statewide activities association that prohibits or delays athletic or activities eligibility for any student who transfers from an unaccredited district to an accredited district, virtual school, charter school, or nonpublic school with a Passport Scholarship under state law. Students residing in an unaccredited district who are enrolled in a nonpublic school will be eligible for interscholastic athletics and activities through any statewide association. (Section 162.086)

RECEIPT OF STATE SCHOOL AID: As a condition of receiving state school aid, an unaccredited district must transfer any local effort moneys it receives from the county assessor and collector to the custody of the State Treasurer. The State Treasurer may collaborate with the State Board of Education and a clearinghouse, if one exists, to identify the tuition and transportation costs for students transferring out of the unaccredited district and the amount of moneys needed from the local effort moneys to pay the tuition and transportation. The State Board of Education will determine the extent to which the State Treasurer may disburse the funds, as described in the act.

In addition, a school district will not be eligible to receive state aid if it violates state school laws, except as described in the act. (Section 163.021)

WEIGHTED AVERAGE DAILY ATTENDANCE: If a school district is using the weighted average daily attendance for the preceding school year or second preceding school year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must adjust it so that the district receives no aid for students who are receiving a Passport Scholarship. (Section 163.036)

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: This act modifies the residency requirements for registration and enrollment in a school district to not apply to: students for whom the location of their residence constitutes an unusual or unreasonable transportation hardship; a student participating in a state approved program allowing him or her to enroll in another school districts; and students eligible to transfer from an unaccredited district to an accredited district under Section 167.133. (Section 167.020)

STUDENT TRANSFERS FROM AN UNACCREDITED DISTRICT: Currently, the school board of a school district that does not maintain an accredited school is required to pay the tuition and transportation of resident pupils who attend an accredited school in another district of the same or an adjoining county. This section applies to both unaccredited school districts and K-8 school districts that do not offer high school grades.

This act differentiates between a K-8 school district that does not offer high school grades and a school district classified as unaccredited by the State Board of Education. This act specifies that the school board of an unaccredited district must pay the tuition and transportation of resident pupils who attend an accredited school in another district of the same or an adjoining county. A resident pupil of an unaccredited district may attend a school in another accredited district in the same or an adjoining county. A parent or guardian may choose to enroll his or her child in a provisionally accredited district provided the district has informed the parent or guardian of the accreditation classification. Any district that receives transfer students will not be required to include those student's scores on the statewide assessment in that district's scores for up to five years.

The rate of tuition to be charged is the lesser of the nonresident tuition established by each district, or in the absence of nonresident tuition, the lesser of the two districts' average expenditure per pupil for the most recently completed year for which data are available. The residence district must also pay the cost of education in the receiving district for any student with an IEP accepted in the receiving district. The tuition payment will be facilitated and handled by the State Board of Education withholding the necessary amount of funds from the unaccredited district's state aid or the local effort moneys in the custody of the State Treasurer.

By June 30, 2012, each district must establish criteria for the admission of nonresident pupils from unaccredited districts. The primary criteria must be the availability of highly qualified teachers in existing classroom space. Each district must establish criteria for calculating available seats, taking into account the district's resident student population growth or decrease, such that the receiving district is not required to employ additional teachers or construct additional classrooms. In addition, resident pupils must not be displaced from the school building to which they are assigned. The receiving district will be responsible for assigning a student to a particular building but if the receiving school is primarily virtual, parent permission will be required.

When a student from an unaccredited district has been accepted in an accredited district, he or she may complete the educational program through graduation, even if the district of residence regains accreditation.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop a uniform document to be used by school districts to keep track of the number of students who seek admission. The parent of a student seeking admission must receive a copy. Each district must report the information from the document, as described in the act.

In addition, the students of an unaccredited district may enroll in a virtual program that conforms to state standards. The school board of a receiving district may offer a virtual education program in an unaccredited district in which resident and nonresident pupils may enroll. (Sections 167.131 and 167.133)

PROCEDURES WHEN A DISTRICT BECOMES UNACCREDITED: This section creates the Hinson Plan. If a school district, except for St. Louis or a district in St. Louis County, becomes unaccredited, surrounding accredited districts must divide up the territory of the district, annex it, and draw up new attendance boundaries. When an accredited district annexes a portion of an unaccredited district, it will not be considered a successor entity for the purposes of employment contracts, unemployment compensation, or any other purpose. All contracts with teacher unions must be voided. In addition, the accredited district may have certain other powers and authorities, as described in the act. (Section 167.403)

CLEARINGHOUSE: This act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a clearinghouse, or appoint a neutral third party to serve as a clearinghouse, to assist students in the St. Louis City School District or any other unaccredited district in St. Louis County, to transfer to an accredited district, charter school, virtual school, or nonpublic school using a Passport Scholarship.

A parent or guardian seeking to enroll his or her child in another school must send initial notification to the district of residence and the clearinghouse by January 15 for enrollment the next school year. A parent or guardian may apply until July if good cause, as defined, exists for failure to meet the deadline. However, a parent or guardian may enroll a child in a school without using the clearinghouse and a school may enroll a child who has missed the deadlines for enrolling through the clearinghouse.

The clearinghouse must provide counselors to assist and advise parents and guardians on school options that are available and assist in preparation of applications. The expenses associated with the clearinghouse will be defrayed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education withholding funds, not exceed five hundred dollars per pupil, from the unaccredited district's state school aid.

This program will continue until the district has been accredited for five consecutive years and has met all MSIP academic standards for five consecutive years.

The clearinghouse must identify the number of students who use it to seek admission to a school or school district, as described in the act. (Sections 167.406 & 167.409)

VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: A student may enroll in the virtual courses or programs of a virtual education provider or school district that meets Department of Elementary and Secondary Education standards and is accredited. The Department may also offer its own virtual courses. Students enrolled in virtual education must take the components of the statewide assessment that relate to the student's virtual courses or program. The Department shall withhold the tuition amount, as described in the act, from the district of residence's state school aid, and may seek local moneys, as described in the act. (Section 167.418)

SCHOOL PRINCIPALS: School principals will have the right to select teachers for their schools who have demonstrated effectiveness and qualifications. School districts with multiple schools must include provisions in teacher contracts for the placement of teachers rated highly effective or effective based on the mutual consent of the teacher and principal of the school. School districts may adopt options for teachers rated effective or higher who are displaced and not selected for a regular position. This act contains additional procedures for when a position is unavailable for a teacher.

TEACHER TENURE: Currently, the St. Louis City School District has a separate tenure system. This act ends this separate system and includes St. Louis in the statewide system. If a special administrative board is governing a school district, it may appoint a hearing officer to conduct a teacher termination hearing. In addition, a school board, upon an affirmative vote of a constitutional majority of its members, may appoint a hearing officer to conduct a teacher termination hearing.

This act modifies the procedures and criteria by which school boards may place teachers on leave. Instead of seniority or years of service being used as criteria for placing teachers on leave, the deciding criterion will be effective teacher performance based on documented student learning and growth. (Sections 168.104, 168.106, 168.116, 168.124, 168.221)

EDUCATOR EVALUATIONS: Student performance must be a factor in the measurement of educator evaluations. (Section 168.128)

LOCAL BOARD OF EDUCATION RULES: This act prohibits a local school board from enacting rules and regulations that would establish acceptance criteria for students from unaccredited districts. (Section 171.011)

The provisions of this act are nonseverable. (Section 1)

This act contains an emergency clause. (Section B)

This act contains an effective date of July 1, 2012, for the teacher tenure provisions. (Section C).

This act is substantially similar to SCS/SB 451 (2012) and is similar to HCS/HB 1740 (2012), HB 1735 (2012), HB 1736 (2012), HCS/HB 1174 (2012).