Recently, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed SB 576, expanding access to charter schools in the state of Missouri while increasing the accountability of charter schools and their sponsors. This legislation will provide more families across the state access to quality charter schools held accountable to high standards of academic performance and operational management.
The new law will also expand access to charter schools for Missouri students in a manner recognizing that families are seeking alternative public education options in struggling districts and local school boards are seeking flexibility and additional potential for innovation. Prior to this legislation being signed, charter schools were only allowed inside of the St. Louis and Kansas City public school districts.
This legislation allows charter schools to open in any unaccredited district in the state as well as any provisionally accredited district, under certain conditions. Charter schools may also open in any fully accredited district but sponsored only by locally elected school board.
The new statute requires sponsors and schools to sign a performance contract that is the basis for measuring the school’s performance. The law also requires intervention by a charter school sponsor if the school is identified by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as a persistently lowest achieving school, has a high school program that fails to maintain a 70 percent graduation rate, or is chronically underperforming the district's Annual Performance Report score. This score is an annual report given by the DESE to all public school districts in the state. This legislation also greatly increases transparency in a charter school's agreements with outside management companies and requires a formal evaluation of charter school sponsors every three years by the State Board of Education.
SB 576 passed the Missouri State Senate by a wide, bipartisan vote of 31-2 and the Missouri State House by a similar bi- partisan margin of 99-54. The law will go into effect on August 28, 2012. MCPSA was proud to work, along with allied legislators and stakeholders, on this important piece of legislation to give Missouri students access to additional high quality public education options.
Douglas P. Thaman, Executive Director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA)