Palmyra superintendent concerned about proposed education bills

Members of the Missouri House and Senate listen to Gov. Eric Greitens deliver the annual State of the State address Wednesday in Jefferson City, Mo. Palmyra R-1 School District Superintendent Kirt Malone is wary of proposed legislation that would expand charter schools in Missouri and allow tax credits for people who send their children to private schools. | AP Photo
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 11, 2018 8:35 pm Updated: Jan. 11, 2018 8:56 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. -- Palmyra R-1 School District Superintendent Kirt Malone voiced concern this week about some possible legislation that could adversely affect public school funding in Missouri.

Malone told the Palmyra School Board at its meeting that the General Assembly might take up some proposed bills this session to allow tax credits or vouchers along with charter school expansion.

House Bill 1639, for example, would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, which would allow families to claim tax credits for sending their kids to private schools, home schools or schools other than the child's local public school.

Malone believes the program could siphon away millions of dollars from the state's public education system, making tight school district budgets even tighter.

"What happens is, taxpayers will make contributions and claim a tax credit," he said. "So instead of those tax dollars going into the general revenue fund, those tax credits are given back to the taxpayers who made the contributions."

Malone also said some open enrollment bills might be introduced this year, which essentially "would provide families with a voucher to allow their children to attend school anywhere they would like."

He said another bill that could come up for consideration calls for expanding charter schools beyond the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. He feels charter schools might not be the best solution to educating students.

"The philosophy is charter schools provide school choice for students who live in school districts that underperform," he said. "The reality is charter schools have performance issues, and they're inefficient and lack public accountability."

Malone said school superintendents across the state will be keeping an eye on what legislative actions take place in Jefferson City this year, but the uncertainty over state school funding will make it difficult for districts to prepare their budgets for next year.

"The state requires us to have a budget in place by June, but the state doesn't always have its budget ready in June," he said.

Also at the School Board meeting, Kinsey Cissna, the district's special ed coordinator, reported that the district is meeting the state's criteria in implementing the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act.

Cissna said the district logged a perfect score in all 10 determination areas recognized by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.


The School Board extended Malone's contract by an additional year, through the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Proposed key dates for the 2018-19 school calendar were discussed. Malone said the board will take action on the calendar in February.

Palmyra High School senior Alyssa Loman was selected as the Belcher Scholarship representative from Palmyra R-1.

Board members were informed that the graduation ceremony for the district's PRIDE alternative school program was postponed to Sunday, Jan. 14, because of bad weather last weekend.