KCUR – Thursday, January 23, 2014
Five bills that would each revamp Missouri’s student transfer law were examined Wednesday by a State Senate committee.
Senate Bill 485, Senate Bill 495, Senate Bill 534, Senate Bill 545 and Senate Bill 595 were all presented together before the Senate Education Committee. Each would require school districts to adopt policies on class size and student-teacher ratios, which would be taken into account before students could transfer from a failing district to an accredited one.
They would also require schools in failed districts to be accredited individually, by building, instead of stripping accreditation from all schools in a single district, according to state Sen. Eric Schmitt, a Republican from Glendale, sponsored one of the five bills.
“There are some ideas that aren’t in this that may ultimately happen, but we wanted to at least to get the conversation going,” Schmitt said. “This, by no means, is a finished product, we recognize that, but we thought it was important for us to speak as best we could with one voice.”
Scott Sifton is a Democrat from Affton and sponsored one of the bills.
“Philosophically, what a lot of the provisions of this bill are geared to do is, frankly, concentrate dollars in the classroom to the greatest extent possible, vis-à-vis, transportation costs,” Sifton said. “There will need to be transportation costs, but the more we can do to keep our scarce resources focused on education, the better.”
Sifton said portions of the Mehlville and Kirkwood school districts fall within his Senate district. Mehlville and Kirkwood have received transfer students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens. Another provision of the five bills would allow unaccredited districts to lengthen school days, school terms, and hours of instruction.
One single bill will likely be adopted once negotiations over its content are complete.