To the Constituents of the 126th District,
The first few weeks may have seemed to be going a little slow and not a lot happening, but that all changed this week! Everyday has been booked full and this week has really been a blur! That is O.K., it makes the days and the week go by quick! We heard the Open Enrollment bill this week on the house floor and it was Perfected and passed out of the house on Wednesday, so it is off to the Senate and hopefully they will take it up soon. This is a somewhat controversial bill, but I feel it will help children in failing districts while not affecting our rural district schools very much, if any, at all. I will highlight some of the bill below. Lots of committee hearings, with bills being executed out, so I expect more floor bill presentation and debate to ramp up quickly.
Open Enrollment Legislation First Out of the Gate for the House
The Missouri House has prioritized school choice and open enrollment this year, passing the first bill, HB 1989, immediately following National School Choice Week. This legislative measure, which has passed out of the House for the past three years, emphasizes the desire to offer Missourians educational options and empower families in deciding the best quality education for their children.
HB 1989 would allow K-12 public schools to decide whether students from neighboring districts can enroll in their schools. Dubbed the Public School Open Enrollment Act, the bill aims to improve educational quality, boost parental involvement, expand access to programs and classes, and align curriculum options with personal beliefs. The legislation placed a three percent cap on the number of students who can leave a district annually under open enrollment. Districts are not required to add staff or programs, such as special education, for the program. Currently, 43 states have some form of open enrollment.
The bill sponsor stressed that the district has the option to opt in to the open enrollment program, and stated that the state money follows the bill, while the local money stays in the local district. Ultimately, the decision-making process stays in the hands of the receiving district.
“This bill allows the 899,000 students in the state of Missouri in the public school system the opportunity to have choice within the very system that their parents pay taxes to,” the bill sponsor told his fellow members. “Some opponents say this forces districts to compete with each other, but we build on competition. This puts it in the hands of the local taxpayers, who have a student in a local district, and gives them the ability to shape the future of that district. This bill keeps public school students in the public school system.”
I am honored to serve as your Representative in the Missouri House. If at any time, you have questions, concerns or ideas regarding state government, please feel free to contact me at 573-751-5388 or Jim.Kalberloh@house.mo.gov.