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This week, my colleagues and I spent a considerable amount of time discussing Senate Bill 292.

This legislation aims to change state law regarding expanding charter schools to the rest of the state.

Charter schools are independent public schools that do not follow the same rules, regulations and accountability standards as traditional public school districts. In Missouri, charter schools can already be established in the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City and a school district that has been classified as provisionally unaccredited.

Senate Bill 292 would expand the law to allow a charter school to be operated in any county, or in an urban school district as defined by law, given the proposed charter school sponsor receives a petition with signatures from parents of students who would attend the school. The procedures relating to changes in a school district’s accreditation status that affect the establishment of a charter school are repealed under this proposal. This would mean that a charter school could be established in a school district that is thriving.

In Missouri, charter schools were intended to serve as an intervention for struggling school districts by giving them an opportunity to improve students test scores but they are not producing the results expected of them and many have failed altogether. We need to find solutions to fix the concept of charter schools and find ways to hold them accountable before allocating more funds to their operation. It is also not fair that they operate without the same accountability rules that public schools operate under.

This legislation has the potential to drastically change public education in our state, and I do not take this decision lightly. It is my responsibility to protect public education in our state and represent my constituents’ concerns. It is of the utmost importance to thoroughly examine this proposal to identify any unintended consequences.

I always appreciate hearing your opinions and concerns regarding your state government. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at gary.romine@senate.mo.gov. For more information, please visit my official Senate webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/romine.

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