11 May Senate Lawmakers Consider Deeper Summer School Cuts (MO)May 11, 2010
By: Juana SummersSource: Political Fix
Missouri Senate lawmakers Monday laid over discussion on a hefty education bill that could make changes to the state’s foundation formula funding, summer school funding and school safety.
Under t he bill, school districts that want to offer summer school programs with non-academic activities would have to pay for them themselves. The state would only fund core classes.
The bill also includes a provision that schools with a higher percentage of students receiving low-cost or free lunches would receive more funding for summer school. Some Senate lawmakers questioned the idea of giving less to some schools and more to others.
“Summer school serves a lot of purposes,” said Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield. “I think if we give preferences to certain segments, we’re not allowing all students in Missouri to get the things they really need.”
Cunningham proposed an amendment would remove caps on summer school funding.
The number of amendments proposed caused the Senate to take a break in their debate. While the chamber was at ease, more than 15 senators and a handful of staffers discussed strategy on how to move ahead.
While the Senate frequently stands at ease to work out issues, these types of discussions don’t typically happen in the middle of the Senate floor.
“This is new,” remarked Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City, who was part of the discussion late Monday night.
About 20 minutes later, senators decided to lay the bill for the evening, instead of adding on more amendments likely to be stripped out by House members in committee. Laying over a bill with su ch little time left in the session lessens the chance that the bill will be passed before the legislative session ends Friday.
But Senate leaders say key provisions of the bill could still make it through both chambers.
Majority Floor Leader Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, said he hoped to see the bill go conference tomorrow, so lawmakers from both chambers could focus on the most important parts of the bill, including the phase-in of the education foundation formula.
Engler said that if the Legislature doesn’t pass a bill related to the formula this year, the formula’s future could be left up to the “70-something new members in the House” with little political clout.
“They haven’t been over there very long, and they’re going to be making decisions on this,” Engler said.
The legislation is HB 1543.