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Missouri Lawmakers Approve Expanding Charter Schools

KMOX Capitol Bureau
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – The Missouri House sent the governor a measure that would expand where  independent charter schools can operate and who can sponsor them.

Charter schools receive some public school funds, but operate independently  of many of the regulations governing public schools.

Currently, charter schools are limited to St. Louis and Kansas City.

The measure passed by the legislature would allow a charter school to operate  in any school district that is unaccredited or provisionally accredited.

In addition, more organizations could sponsor charter schools including a  local school district or a special state commission created by the law.

The measure also includes provisions for expanded government review of  charter schools including the right of the state auditor to audit a charter  school.

Supporters argued the state has a responsibility to provide students in  failing school districts with an alternative.

“We need to do something to help these kids,” said Rep. Rick Stream, R-St.  Louis County. “And we don’t need to wait until next year or the following year  or five years or ten years down the road. We need to act now to give these kids  a quality education.”

But critics charged the bill did nothing to address the underlying problems  facing the unaccredited districts of St. Louis and Kansas City.

“This is a distraction to continue to pull resources,” said Rep. Genise  Montecillo, D-St. Louis, during the final House debate Tuesday. “A lot of these  kids these kids are homeless in St. Louis city public schools. The homeless rate  is extremely high. We have to address those concerns.”

Springfield Democrat Rep. Sara Lampe warned that the bill could open the door  for profit-making, out-of-state charter school companies to undercut the  financial base of a local district that ran into accreditation problems.

“The only thing that this bill is needed for is to create an opportunity for  expansion of a business out into the state into your community, to draw profit  off your community and and take away your local community school.”

The measure now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon. In his January State of the State  address, Nixon urged lawmakers to impose stronger quality controls over charter  schools.

Link:  the charter school bill, SB 576.

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