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Metro school districts await answers regarding unaccredited districts

Unaccredited schools in Kansas City and St. Louis could have a huge impact on a number of school districts in each of those metropolitan areas.  Plus, teacher tenure could see changes – and we’ll give you the results of the Columbia school board races we previewed the last couple of weeks.

The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would double the amount of time required for public school teachers to earn tenure.  The bill will need to pass one more Senate vote before it would be sent to the State House. Marshall Griffin has some details from Jefferson City.

Meantime, the state senate has not yet acted on a plan that would have allowed schools in St. Louis County to reject students attempting to transfer from St. Louis City Schools.  For nearly 20 years Missouri has had a law on the books that allows students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to nearby accredited ones. It’s a policy that makes sense on the surface. But both the St. Louis and Kansas City public schools are currently without state accreditation.  And as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports, the law would allow thousands of students to transfer into suburban districts… at a huge cost to the urban schools.

A St. Louis Circuit Court heard arguments in the Turner vs. the District of Clayton case last month… and there still hasn’t been a verdict. The School District of Clayton argued that thousands of students from St. Louis would likely flood its district – and that taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

In another case last month the Missouri Supreme Court did rule that the Webster Groves School District in suburban St. Louis County does not have to admit a student from St. Louis City Schools... for now. There were some questions about the particular student in the case – and whether she was eligible for transfer based on the school work she’s completed and where she lived.  That case has been sent back to the trial court to sort that out. The Webster Groves School District used a number of other defenses too, including saying the transfer would violate the Hancock Amendment, which prevents unfunded mandates. The Supreme Court says the district can’t use that defense, because the district is not a taxpayer.

And finally, we spent the last couple of weeks on Exam talking with the candidates for the school board in Columbia. You’ve probably heard this by now, but just in case - voters decided Christine King should serve her second three-year term, and that Paul Cushing should join the board for the first time. Rex Cone and Melvin Blase came up just short in their attempts to join the board. Meantime, the school tax levy and bond issue both passed in Columbia as well. The tax levy will go toward general operating costs, and the bond issue will help build a new elementary school and go toward a plan to end the use of trailers as classrooms in Columbia Public Schools.

Ryan served as the KBIA News Director from February 2011 to September 2023