SJR 017 Vouchers for Public or Private School, Parental Choice
Committee:EDUCLR Number:L0389.01I
Last Action:02/28/95 - Hearing Conducted S Education Committee (opposition only)
Effective Date:Indefinite
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Current Bill Summary

SJR 17 - This resolution would submit a constitutional amendment which, if approved by Missouri voters, would provide an annual scholarship or "voucher" to every elementary and secondary school-age child in the state. This scholarship shall be equal for each child in a given grade and shall be at least one-half of the statewide average per pupil spending in grades K-12 in the public schools of the state during the preceding fiscal year. The scholarship would be at least $2230 per pupil based on current data. The scholarship will be redeemable at any scholarship redeeming school. Any school, public or private, which satisfies the specified criteria may redeem scholarships, but no school is required to redeem scholarships. A child shall not receive a scholarship for any year in which the child is enrolled in a school which does not redeem scholarships.

The General Assembly may provide additional funds for special needs and for transportation for low-income children. Scholarship redeeming schools may receive other funds from any source. If the scholarship amount exceeds the charges at the school, the excess will be placed in a trust fund for the child and may be later applied at a scholarship redeeming school or an institution of higher education in Missouri, except that any surplus remaining when the person reaches age twenty-six shall revert to general revenue.

Scholarships shall not constitute taxable income. Children enrolled in private schools on October 1, 1994 shall become eligible for scholarships for the 1998-99 school year. All other children shall become eligible beginning with the 1996-97 school year.

The State Board of Education may require each public school and each scholarship redeeming school to choose and administer tests reflecting national standards, and each school's composite results shall be made public.

Public school districts shall establish procedures to allocate enrollment based on parental choice. Public schools which do not redeem scholarships shall complete district enrollments and then accept pupils regardless of residence to fill the remaining capacity.

To become a scholarship redeeming school, a private school shall file a statement with the State Board of Education that the school has satisfied all legal requirements applicable to private schools on October 1, 1994: (1) does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color or national origin; (2) does not advocate unlawful behavior; (3) does not teach hatred of any person on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion or gender or deliberately provide false information about the school.

The General Assembly may not enact regulations applicable to private schools, beyond those required by this resolution and those regulations effective on October 1, 1994, without approval by a three-fourths vote of both houses, except that regulations pertaining to health, safety or land use imposed by the General Assembly or a city or county may be enacted by a two-thirds vote. The General Assembly may enact penalties for fraudulent conduct in connection with solicitation of students or redemption of scholarships, and may restrict employment at scholarship redeeming schools of any person convicted of a felony, lewd or lascivious conduct or child abuse.

Any school may establish a code of conduct and enforce the code with sanctions, including dismissal.

The General Assembly shall establish a process by which public schools may become independent, scholarship redeeming schools. Such schools shall operate under regulations no more restrictive than those applicable, under this resolution, to private schools.

The resolution provides that any action to protest any part of the resolution shall be commenced within six months of the effective date, except that the application of the provisions of the resolution to a particular person may be contested after that time.

This act is similar to SJR 21 from 1994.