HB 1989 opens doors for Missouri students to choose public schools statewide

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Jefferson City, Missouri – Missouri students might soon have the option to attend public schools outside their home district thanks to a new bill.

The bill, HB 1989, introduced by Missouri State Representative Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia), proposes an open enrollment program for public schools.

Under this program, from kindergarten onwards, students could attend a public school in a different district with their parents’ or guardians’ consent and following an application process.

Missouri public school districts would have the autonomy to decide their participation level in the program, set limits on the number of transferring students they can accept, and approve applications from nonresident students.

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The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is tasked with creating an open enrollment transfer policy, mandatory for all public school districts, irrespective of their participation in the program.

The legislation allows districts to cap the number of transfer students between 1-3% of their previous year’s enrollment, based on various criteria.

For districts that opt in, they must declare the number of transfer students they are willing to accept for the next school year by December 1 each year.

The bill highlights benefits like better teaching, increased parental involvement, access to more programs and classes, and the chance to choose curriculums that align with personal beliefs as reasons for this program.

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Last year, Pollitt introduced a similar bill that passed the Missouri House but stalled in the Senate.

Supporters believe this bill is key for educational reform, while critics worry about its potential negative impact on rural schools and communities, fearing it might lead to consolidations or closures.

HB 1989 is now with a House committee and is slated for a hearing on January 17.

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