Bailout for failing schools wins Republican favor
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Bailout for failing schools wins Republican favor

Date: September 24, 2013
By: Christina Turner
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A bailout for failing school districts in St. Louis County won support from key Republican members of the House Education Committee.

House Budget Chair Rep. Rick Stream, R-St. Louis County, said Tuesday he feels confident his fellow lawmakers will supply state aid for the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that we're going to pass a bill next session," Stream said. "We hope to do it early in the session, January or February, get it on the governor's desk with an emergency clause so he can sign it."

House Education Committee Vice Chair Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, said the failing districts need the money to avoid bankruptcy.

"I know people say that you could throw all the money you wanted into a failing district and probably not see any results, and I kind of disagree with that," Rowland said.

The 17 members of the House Committee on Education were halfway through a statewide tour Tuesday to hear feedback on education policy. The trip follows a state school board request for $6.8 million to go toward the Normandy school district.

Francis Howell Superintendent Pam Sloan said being one of only a few schools receiving transferring students is a burden on her district. She said she'd only support extra funds being given to the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts if spending was monitored.

"How do I know they're getting better with the resources we're giving them?" Sloan said. "If we're going to give them something, how are they using it? How am I getting any reassurances that the money is being used effectively?"

Francis Howell School Board President Marty Hoditz said money would just be a band-aid covering the real problem.

"The state of Missouri has not stepped in early enough to help provisional and unaccredited districts in the state to achieve accreditation and maintain their accreditation," Hoditz said.

The House Committee on Education visited the St. Louis area Monday, Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff Tuesday, and will travel to Joplin and the Ozarks Wednesday.

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