JEFFERSON CITY • After hearing nine bills addressing the school transfer law debacle, the Senate Education Committee has agreed upon a compilation of ideas they deem necessary to solve the problem.
The committee endorsed a transfer bill -- sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg -- this afternoon.
"I'm thrilled it's out of committee," Pearce said. He added that the bill could be on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday.
His bill includes concepts from many of the bills heard by the committee, all looking to modify the 1993 transfer law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay tuition and provide transportation for students wanting to attend an accredited school in the same or adjacent county.
After a Missouri Supreme Court ruling upheld the law last June, about 2,000 students transferred from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts to higher performing schools throughout the St. Louis region.
Below are a few ideas incorporated into Pearce's bill.
-- The State Board of Education would determine the accreditation status of individual school buildings within a district.
-- The board would develop a way to classify charter schools.
-- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would annually calculate a transient student ratio for each building and each district.
-- Parents would have to be notified when a school becomes unaccredited and the transfer option must be explained.
-- Steps to determine a student's promotion to the next grade level and intervention for students determined to be struggling readers.
-- Each district would be allowed to determine desirable class sizes and student-teacher ratios.
-- Three “Regional Education Authorities” would coordinate transfers. There would be an authority serving St. Louis and St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County, and another for the rest of the state.
An amendment was added to the bill today to allow students to transfer to private, nonsectarian schools.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, offered the amendment and said the aim is to provide multiple options to transfer students.
The amendment passed, despite the misgivings of Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, who was concerned that the amendment wouldn't be fair to families who live in the unaccredited district but previously had chosen to pay the full tuition for a private school.