The Missouri Senate approved a bill yesterday to change the existing law that would eliminate the two-year waiting period for a state takeover after a school district loses its accreditation. The bill (HB 1174) now goes back to the Missouri House, which has two days left in the current session.
Kansas City lost its accreditation status on January 1 and, under current law, wouldn't be eligible for a state takeover until January 1, 2014. But the proposed bill, which originated in the Missouri House, could eliminate the elected school board. The Missouri Board of Education would then appoint a new board in its place with a majority of members culled from the district. The bill doesn't change the current available options for dealing with an unaccredited district: establishing a special administrative board, merging the failing district with neighboring districts or carving it up into new school systems.
This is not the only piece of education legislation being considered by lawmakers. The Missouri Legislature approved a bill on Tuesday to expand the scope of charter schools - allowing schools to be opened in school districts that have lost accreditation or had provisional accreditation for three straight academic years as of this fall. For those districts with accreditation, charter schools would need to be approved by the local school board. The bill is currently on the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon.
Whether the school board stays on for two more days or two more years, this is not the last time the state will be weighing in on the state of public schools in Kansas City.