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Conference committee appointments gives some hope for transfer fix

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The much-debated school transfer bill, House Bill 42, sponsored by Rep. David Wood (R-Versailles), is now headed to conference committee after 7 amendments and a solid vote, a veto-proof 26-3, in the Senate. Conference committee appointments were announced today in both chambers.

Reps. Wood, Mike Cierpiot (R-Lee’s Summit), Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), Tommy Pierson (D-St. Louis), and Courtney Curtis (D-St. Louis) have been appointed from the House to the conference committee, while Sens. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Eric Schmitt (R-Glensdale), Ed Emery (R-Lamar), Chappelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis), and Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) have been appointed from the Senate.

“I am pleased to see the transfer bill take another step forward,” said Childrens Education Council of Missouri state director Katie Casas. “I think it’s great the Speaker and the Pro Tem appointed members to the Conference Committee who have been involved in this issue for several years and who have shown their dedication to ensuring Missouri’s children having access to high quality education. I trust that these ten individuals will be able to work together to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions rather quickly.”

StudentsFirst Missouri, a bipartisan group of parents, teachers, small-business owners, and citizens, also applauded the progress on the bill, whose similar predecessor was vetoed over the “private option.”

State Outreach Director for StudentsFirst, Ryan Stauffer, issued the following statement regarding the bill:

StudentsFirst Missouri applauds the legislature for their dedication to addressing problems with the student transfer law. When a student’s school is failing them, the state must step in and provide that child with the option to transfer to a better school and the resources to do so. It is important that the bill that comes out of conference ensures that students stuck in unaccredited schools have better access to a high quality school option closer to home. While there is still much work to be done, we urge conferees to focus on making decisions that are in the best interest for all of the students who critically need access to a better education.

HB42 does not have the exact language as last year’s transfer bill regarding private schools, making many think it has a better chance at surviving the governor’s desk or a veto. But while lawmakers may have successfully negotiated away a fight on the private option, there remains some key differences in how they want to see tuition calculated for districts receiving students.

Some want to see a strict cap on tuition to keep sending districts from losing huge chunks of cash for their own district, while those opposed to the cap say receiving districts need financial security when adding students to their rosters. But with the end of the school semester looming and another summer likely to feature students in unaccredited districts shuffling to newer, better nearby schools, lawmakers say they have an obligation to get this transfer bill across the finish line.

There are currently two St. Louis school districts (Normandy, Riverview Gardens) without accreditation. Kansas City school district (Kansas City Public Schools) is currently provisionally accredited..