HB 634: Charter school expansion proposed; CPS could lose funds

The expansion of charter schools across Missouri will be discussed Monday night at the state Capitol.

House Bill 634 would allow charter schools to operate in any school district, not just Kansas City or St. Louis.

Charter schools are independent public schools that are free from some rules and regulations that apply to a traditional public school. 

While the Missouri Charter School Association says it provides Missourians with more choices of schools; opponents say the law regarding charter schools needs reform. 

Dr. Peter Stiepleman and Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley presented to the school board what the proposed legislation would mean for the upcoming school year at Columbia Public Schools. 

"If you go and dig into whether or not it's a reform tool that work's it's a whole other philosophical conversation we can have," Stiepleman said. " Eleven out of 17 schools in St. Louis would be provisionally unaccredited."

The proposed legislation would mean CPS would lose more than $8,000 in funding for every student that attends a charter school within the district. If 100 of the 17,000 students who attend CPS, the district would lose more than $842,000. 

"By suggesting that you should try an unproven reform tool that's going to cost us a significant amount of money, it's just not the time to go for it," Stiepleman said.

The $840,000 would be equivalent to letting go of 15 teachers. 

If passed, the bill would be effective July 2018. The bill is still in committee. 

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