Highlights of New Funding Law

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Highlights of New Funding Law

Several major provisions of Missouri's new school funding law will take effect only if the parties to St. Louis' 26-year-old desegregation case reach a settlement.  Many other features are slated to kick in regardless of whether such a deal is reached.

Provisions Contingent on Settlement:
City-suburban transfer program:  Sets up a nonprofit corporation to administer the voluntary transfer of students from St. Louis to nearby suburbs and from those districts to city magnet schools.  Provides for state aid to subsidize the transfers.
Redistribution of state aid: Changes the state aid formula to reward districts that have high local tax rates and large numbers of poor children qualifying for free or subsidized lunches.  Funnels more money not only to Kansas City and St. Louis, but also about $37 million annually to other districts statewide.
Help for Kansas City: Generates an estimated $28 million more each year for Kansas City, Mo., school.  That money would help offset the far larger loss in state subsidies set to occur next year under a deal in that city's desegregation case.

Provisions Not Dependent on Settlement:
Transitional status for St. Louis: Creates a "transitional" school board, overlaying the existing board, to oversee implementation of a settlement in the desegregation case.  The mayor, City Council, and school board each appoint a member to the new board, which would be responsible for seeking voter approval of a local tax increase to help replace court-ordered state payments.
Other governance changes: Phases out the current St. Louis school board, whose 12 members are elected at large to six-year terms, replacing it with a seven-member board elected from subdistricts for four-year terms.
Charter schools: Authorizes charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis, sponsored  by either the city school board or a higher education institution.  Limits the number of existing schools that can convert to charter status to 5 percent districtwide.
State takeovers: Authorizes state education officials to take temporary control of districts that lose their state accreditation and fail to win it back after two years.
Failing schools: Requires Kansas City, St. Luis, and other districts with graduation rates below 65 percent to identify "academically deficient" schools and authorizes the districts to reconstitute those schools–restaff them and start from scratch–or convert them to charter status.  Also allows the state to create parent-dominated accountability councils in low-performing schools to help oversee changes aimed at raising student achievement.
Tax credits and tenure: Extends a tax credit to employers of up to $2,000 per student for the costs of mentoring at-risk students through programs approved by local districts according to state regulations.   Eliminates tenure for principals in St. Louis, the only district statewide to grant them that protection.  Also extends the provisional period before teachers earn tenure in the city from three to five years..

Vol. 17, Issue 43, Page 8

Published in Print: August 5, 1998, as Highlights of New Funding Law
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