MASA Legislative Priorities and Platform
MASA Legislative Priorities
The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) represents an overwhelming majority of school administrators serving public school districts in Missouri. The MASA Legislative Platform covers a multitude of issues that our members have identified which they support and oppose. While the subsequent pages detail these positions, the following three provisions represent the association’s essential priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session.
Full Funding of the Foundation Formula, School Transportation and other Categoricals: Missouri legislators have recently shown a commitment to fully funding our state’s foundation formula. For that, we are grateful. However, when the state encountered difficult economic times due to the Great Recession, we saw transportation funds cut by nearly one-third, the Career Ladder Program eliminated, Parents as Teachers cut in half and a substantive decrease in the Public Placement Fund. Since that time, little attention has been given by the legislature as a whole to increase these line items and, as such, students, parents and public education as a whole have suffered. Next session, the formula will require less additional funding than in previous years. As a result, we urge the legislature to seize this opportunity to invest significantly in school transportation and the other aforementioned revenue line items.
De-emphasizing Standardized Testing and Focus on Workforce Development: We are of the opinion that public education must play a key role in improving our state’s workforce. As such, we must focus our attention on developing skills in students that are needed in order to be successful rather than focusing our time and attention on state and federally mandated standardized tests. The system currently in place has been detrimental to student engagement and success as well as to teacher recruitment and retention. Thus, we urge the General Assembly to support efforts both legislatively and by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that: 1) allows school districts to implement a local accountability model that is specialized to the community it serves; 2) promotes the development of career pathways, internships and apprenticeships at the high school level that are aligned to local workforce needs; and 3) allows school districts to focus their efforts to help students be successful in their post-secondary endeavors.
Refocusing Priorities on Quality of Traditional Public Education: Continued access to a quality, traditional public education for all of Missouri’s children is critical to the future of our state. Over the past decade, efforts have increased to privatize public education via vouchers, voucher tax credits, virtual privatization and privately run charter schools. These privatization initiatives lack public accountability and erode the foundation of a quality public education by diverting funding from traditional public schools. We believe the legislature should prioritize the quality of public education and work with public school leaders to meet this challenge as opposed to the aforementioned harmful interferences which have proven to be ineffective, inefficient and unsustainable.
MASA Legislative Platform
Continuous improvement of the public education system being necessary to student success,
- Creating approved pilot programs that would exempt districts from certain aspects of the state school improvement program in exchange for a continuous improvement effort that promotes financial and organizational efficiency while focusing on the unique needs of their communities;
- Limiting charter school expansion until additional and effective accountability and transparency measures are placed on existing charter schools;
- Replicating programs that have been proven effective in meeting the needs of students, specifically students that live in poverty or are considered “at-risk”;
- Providing specialized training for administrators, teachers and staff who work in high poverty areas or with diverse student populations that focus on the unique situations children face in their communities and culture;
- Dedicating funds for programs that train administrators to deliver effective and constructive teacher evaluations;
- Offering incentives and policy changes to assist the recruitment of talented college students into the education profession and retain them once they become teachers;
- Defining the parameters by which employees may collectively bargain including (1) ensuring the Board of Education as the decision-making body on any issue that may reach an impasse between administration and a bargaining group; (2) identifying issues and topics which may be the subject of bargaining negotiations; (3) clarification to the definition of labor organization; (4) setting stringent and significant penalties for anyone participating in a school strike; and (5) defining “good faith bargaining”;
- Continuing the independent governing structure of the PSRS/PEERS retirement systems;
- Reinstatement of the 2.55 multiplier for PSRS members who have 31 years of service or more;
- Ensuring changes to work after retirement rules do not place a financial burden on school districts and provides maximum flexibility to allow school districts to fill positions where few quality applicants may exist;
- Increasing Missouri’s graduation rates by offering incentives for students to stay in school and/or disincentives for dropping out;
- Ensuring students who graduate from a Missouri High School be eligible for all state financial aid made available by the state of Missouri;
- Ensuring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has the resources needed to intervene and assist low performing school districts; and
- Continuing the current independence, structure, and governance of the Missouri High School Activities Association (MSHSAA).
- Basing a teacher’s pay, a district’s salary schedule, layoffs, or tenure solely on teacher evaluations;
- Establishing an arbitrary percentage of student performance that must be used in employee evaluations;
- Reducing the probationary period for teachers; and
- Using outside arbitrators to resolve employment disputes.
Resources being necessary to carry out the charge of public education in the state of Missouri,
- Ensuring the foundation formula continues to be fully funded;
- Fully funding the transportation formula;
- Ensuring that a long-term plan is developed to fund Parents as Teachers and early childhood education programs in all school districts;
- Funding the Small School appropriation for the formula;
- Increasing the bonding capacity for school districts;
- Funding to enhance student/school safety;
- Creating a comprehensive state plan to address improvement of teacher salaries;
- Reforming Missouri’s tax credit programs by:
- Placing a sunset clause on all current and future tax credit programs;
- Making all new tax credit programs subject to the appropriations process;
- Prohibiting the use of multiple tax credit programs on the same project, particularly the stacking of the low-income tax credit with the historic preservation tax credit;
- Conducting a standardized, annual review of tax credit programs to monitor and report on each tax credit’s return on investment;
- Tying the caps of tax credit programs to funding of categorical education spending;
- Modifying the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit to increase the number of eligible participants; and
- Placing a portion of the savings from tax credit reform to be dedicated to funding the improvement of school facilities and infrastructure;
- Requiring the unanimous support of all taxing jurisdictions for any tax abatement project. If unanimous support cannot be achieved, the issue should either be put to a vote of the people in the affected taxing jurisdictions or schools should be given the ability to opt out of the abatement;
- Providing resources to provide targeted professional development to school districts and their administrators so they may utilize the unique resources in their community to better address the mental healthcare of their students;
- Reinstating flexibility of professional development funds to allow for alignment with district needs;
- Consideration of revenue enhancements such as a sales tax on Internet sales tax, tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes or a general sales tax to provide long-term funding for Missouri public schools;
- Using uniform assessment processes by county assessors to provide consistent appraisals throughout the state and penalizing assessors that fail to meet the requirements;
- Allowing voters to approve bond issues with a simple majority;
- Providing additional funding for technology, MOREnet, math and science equipment, Safe Schools Grants and alternative education programs;
- Creating state funding for school facility replacement and/or improvement;
- Exempting education spending from proposals, like the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that seek to put a cap on state spending;
- Ensuring districts maintain discretion to evaluate the quality of virtual education offerings and the flexibility to make enrollment decisions that are in the best interest of students; and
- Changes to the transportation hardship law that do not financially burden either the sending or receiving district.
- Diverting state funds from the public schools by any means including tuition tax credits/vouchers;
- Revenue reductions that impact the state’s ability to fund public education;
- Mandating open enrollment of students to attend schools in districts in which their parents do not pay property taxes;
- Any effort to reduce the amount of funding available to districts for summer school;
- Mandating programs without appropriating the necessary funds to implement and sustain the programs;
- Any effort to change the current process for determining the taxable assessed value and tax status of senior citizen living facilities in Missouri;
- Imposing property tax reductions, freezes or limits;
- Transforming the early childhood special education program from a required to a voluntary program;
- Replacing the Missouri income tax with a sales tax;
- Forcing consolidation of school districts; and
- Limiting the ability of school districts to seek civil, equitable and other legal remedies.