(AP) – Students at troubled Missouri schools could switch to nearby quality schools or choose a private school at local taxpayers’ expense under legislation the Senate passed Thursday.
The legislation overhauls a student transfer law dating to 1993 that has led to recent financial problems for unaccredited districts that currently must pay for students who want to attend better-performing schools in other districts.
Under the Senate legislation, individual schools would be accredited along with entire districts. Students who attend a struggling school could move to a better one within their home district. Transferring out of a school district would remain an option, but only for students who would attend a failing school within an unaccredited school district and who cannot move to a higher-performing school there. There would be a 12-month residency requirement for students to transfer.
“We are giving those students a choice,” said Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat from St. Louis County.
Addressing transfers and unaccredited school districts has received significant attention this year, and the Senate spent much of its time this week debating the bill.
In a statement, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said, “”We look forward to working with the Missouri House and Senate as the legislature addresses this critical issue.”
Senators approved the measure 27-5. It now moves to the House, where an education committee was considering separate proposals Thursday.
Flur lf the five botes against the plan came from Kansas City area Senators, Democrats Paul LeVota, Jolie Justus and Jason Holsman and Lee’s Summit Republican Will Kraus.
Supporters of the Senate bill said additional work would be needed