ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) – Chesterfield Senator Jane Cunningham says she has a plan to give students in unaccredited schools options for where to go. The law currently says students in unaccredited schools can go to a county school of their choice for free. Cunningham says they should also be able to go to charter schools, virtual schools or private schools if they want.

Under her bill, county schools would set the number of seats available for students from unaccredited districts. The bill would also set up incentives for the creation of charter schools and virtual schools. The third option is to give students an avenue for private and parochial schools. The bill would set up tax credits for people who donate money to scholarship funds for those students to be able to afford private schools. There already are tax deductions for those donations, and Cunningham says she’s gotten interest from those donors for the new system.After that, there would be a clearing house set up for parents to go and get help in deciding which option would be best for their children.

There is no fiscal note set for this bill. Cunningham says the research is taking a long time to get an accurate picture of how much a choice program would cost. Currently there is a fiscal note of $300 million circulating, but Cunningham says that’s being done by the law firm representing Clayton School District in the case that argues that it’s not fair to accredited schools to handle an influx of new students. The district argues this is unfair because the students will need extra attention if they are coming from an unaccredited school. That litigation is pending and has a hearing in March.

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