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Senate Bill 55 could bring charter schools to the Ozarks, among other changes

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:51 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - An education package up for debate in the Missouri Senate is seeing so many changes. Senate Bill 55 includes a handful of changes, including possible charter schools here in Springfield.

Ever-changing Senate Bill 55 kept lawmakers debating for hours this week.

”A lot of times, and this was the case with Senate Bill 55, that was the first time a lot of members, myself included, got to see that legislation,” said Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Republican serving Greene County.

The bill would allow any city with more than 30,000 people to have a charter school. That is something currently limited to St. Louis and Kansas City. Sen. Hough strongly opposes the bill.

”There are now essentially a very wide net of the state that could be cast with charter schools. The other issue that I have there, is it’s without input from those communities,” Senator Hough said.

Missouri National Education Association President Phil Murray said the bill could shift resources away from public schools.

”I think it’s real important that communities have control over what happens with their resources. Again, schools are an investment that the community makes to make our community stronger, to make our community better, and all of our kids deserve a strong public school,” Murray said.

Republican Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin sponsored the bill. Since its first draft, the bill has been re-drafted twice, taking some things out that would impact local school. Elements have also been added from other education bills.

”I think the first substitute that was rolled out was a little over 108, or 109, or 110 pages or something like that, so you’ve got a lot in this,” Senator Hough said.

KY3 reached out to Senator O’ Laughlin for an interview, she was unavailable to speak.

One of the other things that was in an earlier version of the bill was a law that said superintendents couldn’t make more than three times the average teacher salary in their district. Lawmakers removed that this week in one of the revisions. The Senate has decided to hold off on voting until they can debate it further.

The bill has been placed on the Senate’s informal calendar for now.

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