Charter School Expansion Advances

(AP) – A Missouri House committee on Monday approved a proposal requiring public schools to sell buildings to charter schools if requested, part of growing legislative efforts to expand charters as a way to fix what some have called the state’s “failing” system allowing students to transfer from poor-performing public schools.
Rep. David Wood, a Versailles Republican, successfully pitched an amendment to his student transfer bill that would require public schools to sell certain unused buildings to charters at fair market value. Wood said the deeds to those buildings would go back to public schools if the charters later dissolve. The proposal was approved by a voice vote of the House Emerging Issues in Education Committee.
The proposal highlights tensions between traditional public schools and charter schools, which are championed by some lawmakers as way to address shortfalls in Missouri’s student transfer law.
Legislative leaders have said revamping the state’s decades-old law allowing students in low-rated districts to transfer to better performing schools is a priority for this session.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a University City Democrat, is one of several lawmakers who said parents need more choices. Students in unaccredited districts now can switch to accredited districts in their area.
“As a state we have been failing our kids,” Chappelle-Nadal said while pushing for charters at a Jan. 28 Senate Education Committee hearing.
Lawmaker efforts to change the state student transfer law last year failed when Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have allowed students to move to private, nonreligious schools.

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