NEWS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MISSOURI SENATE
Senate Takes Steps to Provide Quality Education to Every Child in Missouri: Measure to Fix the School Transfer Issue Advances to the House
JEFFERSON CITY – This week, the Senate addressed one of the most important problems facing the state, the failure to provide children access to a quality education in their own communities. This situation has led to thousands of kids needing to travel substantial distances in order to find the education they deserve. Senate Bill 493, passed by the Senate this week with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, addresses school accreditation and tackles some of the challenges confronting school districts in the school transfer process.
Senate Leader Tom Dempsey said one of the major goals of this bill is to reduce the number of students having to leave their own communities in pursuit of a quality education.
“This bill is designed to do two things: provide access to quality education for every child in the state of Missouri by offering additional local options to those trapped in failing school districts, and take the steps we need to take to get those underperforming school districts turned around,” said Dempsey.
Senate Bill 493 will change the way the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education accredits schools. Instead of designating an entire school district as unaccredited, the department will also accredit each school building individually. Senate Bill 493 also creates three regional educational authorities that will coordinate with local districts and governments on the student transfers, and will help provide financial and classroom size safeguards for districts receiving students.
Bill sponsor Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said this was a bipartisan effort that could not have succeeded without the support of every senator on the floor.
“No one decided to take the easy way out, either by deleting the transfer statute or by changing the accreditation terminology,” said Pearce. “This bill is far from done, but is a huge step in the right direction. All the senators who were involved deserve credit for being so willing to work together on behalf of the students. What started out as nine bills was rolled into one bill, stitching everyone’s ideas and solutions together.”
Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, applauded his fellow senators for addressing issues on a number of fronts.
“I appreciate everyone’s attitude coming into the chamber these last two days,” said Richard. “Our discussions were intense at times, but always sincere. Everyone’s ultimate goal was to create and pass a bill that would allow students equal access to quality education, ideally in their own communities.”
The measure now moves to the House. To learn more about this bill or to track its progress, visit www.senate.mo.gov.