Veto The School Transfer Bill, Gov. Nixon

Update: Read Gov. Nixon’s press release on his veto of HB 42 here.

There are multiple reasons for Gov. Nixon to veto HB 42, the least of which is that the bill does nothing to solve the problem it was intended to solve.  The bill arose in response to the costs incurred by school districts having not met the standards set by No Child Left Behind whose students are then allowed to transfer to other districts.  The current transfer law requires a home district to pay the cost of tuition and transportation for transferring students. It came perilously close to bankrupting the Normandy School District. Normandy, for instance, was faced with paying $18,000-$20,000 per year to receiving districts which far exceeded the cost per pupil that Normandy can spend on students within its own district. As Rep. Clem Smith, Normandy’s state representative, put it: “The families that decided to stay in that district are put at a disadvantage… We have to get a cap on the amount of money that a sending district is spending.”  That is precisely what HB 42 does NOT do and is why Normandy’s own state representative is calling for Gov. Nixon to veto the bill.

Other (unintended) ramifications of HB 42 hit districts like Columbia Public Schools particularly hard. Because HB 42 pushes school accreditation from the district level to the building level, districts like Columbia, having recently opened Battle High School, could find itself “provisionally accredited” simply because it will not have three full years of data to incorporate into the accreditation decision.  Without seniors during its first year of operation, it would have no graduation rate or AP scores, both factors in accrediting schools. [See Columbia superintendent’s recent article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.]

Yet another unforeseen problem with the bill rises from those 200 students who reside in, but never attended, Normandy or Riverview Gardens. Two years ago when the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s transfer law, they transferred tuition-free to other public school districts. HB42, however, denies transfers to any student unless the student has first attended one semester in their home district. This provision leaves those students in limbo.

Perhaps the most serious problem found with HB 42 is its thinly veiled attempt at further undermining public education by allowing public education dollars to flow to approved charter schools or virtual schools. While there is a role for virtual education, it is not to wholly replace public schools in Missouri. The proponents of “school choice” simply saw this an another way to use public education dollars to support private enterprise.

Take your pick––any one of these points is sufficient to justify vetoing HB 42.