Constitution faculty funding invoice passes out of Missouri Senate committee | Schooling
A bill that would shift millions of dollars from traditional public schools to charter schools advanced Thursday with approval from lawmakers.
The Senate Education Committee voted 7-1 after a hearing on the school funding bill sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester. Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, cast the lone vote in opposition.
Currently, school districts in St. Louis and Kansas City receive more money per student than do charter schools in those cities. The rates are calculated through a funding formula that sends more state dollars to charter schools and more local dollars to public schools.
Charter schools, which are tuition-free and independently operated, have long called for a “fix the glitch” solution to a funding formula that doesn’t take into account a rise in local property taxes.
Dozens of parents from St. Louis Public Schools as well as local charter schools traveled to Jefferson City this week to make their case for or against the bill. The bill now moves to the full Senate; a similar bill is pending in the house. Such proposals have been introduced for years without reaching Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.
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Supporters of SLPS, including Superintendent Kelvin Adams, told the committee that funding issues should be resolved without cutting the district’s budget. They pointed to additional expenses for the district including mandatory transportation, free preschool and a higher rate of students with special needs.
“We all have the same problems. What we all need is more state funding in education,” said Emily Hubbard, who tested Thursday and has four children in the city school district.
A fiscal analysis of this year’s version of the bill estimates it would divert more than $18 million from SLPS and $8 million from Kansas City Public Schools to charter schools in those districts.
A representative from Kansas City tested in support of the bill because the district had worked out a compromise with charter schools outside of the proposed legislation. Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, encouraged SLPS leaders to do the same.
Matt Davis, an SLPS School Board member, told the committee that district leadership had returned to an elected board for the last two years and its members are open to negotiations.
The school funding bill is part of a groundswell of proposals targeting education in the state. Other bills weaving through the Legislature involve recalls for school board members, critical race theory in curriculum and a “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”
The legislation is SB 869.
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