From the Office of Representative Kathryn Swan
For Immediate Release: April 21, 2014
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- HB 1689, sponsored by Rep. Kathryn Swan, (R-Cape Girardeau), passed the Missouri House with bi-partisan support in a vote of 126/21.
The bill would allow the inclusion of prekindergarten pupils, who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, in the calculation of attendance for school funding purposes. The funding could not exceed 4% of the district or charter school's total number of students eligible for the lunch program.
A phase-in provision for eligibility would first apply to unaccredited school districts beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Provisionally accredited districts would be eligible in the 2015-16 school year and all other districts could be eligible when the school funding formula is fully funded.
"Forty-four of fifty children who experience reading difficulty in kindergarten will continue to have trouble in the third grade; and, third-graders who lack reading skills are unlikely to graduate from high school," Swan said. "Therefore, there is a gap in achievement even before school starts," she adds.
High-quality early childhood programs are found to have both educational and economic benefits: fewer repeated grades, lower education costs, less need for remediation, greater participation in post-secondary education, and reduced government costs for public assistance and corrections.
The measure does not change mandatory school attendance laws.
Another bill sponsored by Swan, HB 1780, was also voted out of the House Education Committee last week. The measure would require the development of a personal plan of study for students, beginning with the 7th grade. The plan would include graduation requirements and career or post-secondary goals. In addition, a state-wide council would develop recommendations for a state policy addressing student learning needs, focusing upon online learning opportunities. The establishment of a Comprehensive Learning Portal would provide information for students, parents, employers, and teachers.