Struggling school districts in Missouri could see significant changes under two pieces of education legislation passed by the Missouri Senate.
One measure would allow for an expansion of charter schools in lagging districts, while the other would let the state intervene more quickly and make changes in districts that have lost their state accreditation. Both measures now go to the House.
The charter schools measure, backed in a 31-2 vote, would allow the schools to be set up in districts that have been declared unaccredited. Charter schools also could operate in provisionally accredited districts that have had that status — and consistently poor test scores — for three straight years, starting with the next school year.
"There's potential for good, high-quality public school options through charter schools," Earl Simms, a spokesman for the Missouri Charter Public School Association, said. "We'd like to see districts have this tool in their toolbox."
Kansas City and St. Louis are the only districts allowed to have charter schools under current Missouri law.
The measure would allow charter schools to exist in districts that are accredited without provisions as long as the charter school is sponsored by the local school board. In those situations, a district with more than 1,550 students would not be allowed to enroll more than 35 percent of its students in its charter schools.