Education reform package fails in Missouri House

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A package of education reforms failed in the Missouri House of Representatives Tuesday, but there is a chance a pared-down version will be approved by the end of the legislative session Friday.

Senate Bill 291 included provisions for many items, including a four-day school week, day care ratings, and the expansion of the A+ program, which provides two years of community college tuition to qualifying students.

Rep. Clint Tracy, R-Cape Girardeau, said the Senate version of the bill was agreeable but it bill became "too bloated" while in the House of Representatives.

"This bill's turned into a Christmas tree," he said.

One added measure included a quality rating system for child care facilities. Childhood and before and after school programs licensed by the Department of Health and Senior Services would be subject to the system.

He said the regulation would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.

"I feel like it's parents' responsibility," he said. "They should have the ability to walk in and look at a day care and decide whether or not to put their kid there."

Other components, including money for gifted students programs, he said, made the bill too expensive.

"It puts the state in a position that we really don't need them in," he said.

After the bill was defeated by a 116-43 vote, it was deferred to the House Rules Committee where it is being reworked.

"The good news it's going back and we're going to roll it out again hopefully a lot lighter," he said.

House Education Committee Chairman Maynard Wallace R-Thornfield, said the A+ program expansion would not be included in the final version of the bill, The Associated Press reported.

The expansion, which would cost more than $50 million, would open the program to all high schools. Currently students at the 274 A+ designated schools throughout the state can use the program.

Extending the program would also allow students to use the program at a four-year university after completing a two-year degree. Gov. Jay Nixon rallied for the expansion during his campaign.


Pertinent address:

Jefferson City, MO

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