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Issue: 1228 Date: 3/6/2014
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Missouri Senate Begins Debate On Student Transfer Bill

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        The Missouri Senate has begun debate on legislation to lessen the effects of the state's student transfer law.

        The wide-ranging bill attempts to address both the law and unaccredited districts. Provisions within Senate Bill 493 include accrediting individual school buildings instead of districts as a whole and creating regional authorities across the state to oversee transfers.

        Another provision would allow students from unaccredited schools to transfer to private, non-sectarian schools, which some Democrats oppose because it would result in public money going to private institutions. The bill's sponsor, state Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, attempted to make that provision more palatable by offering an amendment to require that private schools be at least three years old to be eligible to accept transfer students.

        "I think this is a very reasonable amendment that says that we don't want businesses just opening up overnight," Pearce said. "We want a proven track record before we're going to send our scarce public dollars to private institutions."

        The amendment failed, however, on a voice vote. Fellow Republican Ryan Silvey of Kansas City argued that it would be arbitrary and unfair to put a 3-year timetable on private schools that meet the state's accreditation standards.

        Debate is scheduled to resume Wednesday. Last week, a similar proposal was unveiled by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It includes a five-tier classification plan in which the level of state intervention would gradually increase as a school district's performance decreases.

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