School district takeover bill goes to Nixon

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Legislation allowing the state to more quickly take over the Kansas City school district is headed to the governor.

The Missouri Senate voted 32-1 Wednesday in support of a bill allowing the State Board of Education to immediately intervene in an unaccredited school district. Current law mandates that the state wait two years before taking action.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, once a district becomes unaccredited, the state will have the option of leaving the current school board in charge or replacing it with a new governing structure. Kansas City Public Schools has been unaccredited since Jan. 1, 2012.

For the last two legislative sessions, lawmakers have tried to do away with the waiting period, but House leadership insisted on tying it to a more controversial measure regarding teacher tenure. The logjam finally broke Tuesday when a version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican, won approval in the House on a 107-49 vote.

Despite the fact that the bill was originally designed as a response to the Kansas City district becoming unaccredited, the fact that it won’t go into effect until Aug. 28 — during the school year — could mean it will have little impact in Kansas City.

In the nearly two years that lawmakers were trying to pass the bill, the Normandy School District in St. Louis County became unaccredited in January.