Honorable XXX XXXX
Missouri State Capitol
201 W. Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Dear (Representative) or (Senator) XXX:
I am writing to you concerning the Turner Case involving students leaving unaccredited schools to attend accredited schools in adjoining districts. I strongly support Representative Stream's bill (co-sponsored by Rep. Kirkton) as a school district resident and a taxpayer.
The current law has the potential to cause many more problems that it solves. Funding is critical. Local taxes make up 89% of the funding for the Webster Groves School District. Very little comes from the state. It is unclear how a district receiving students will be compensated. It would not be fair to local taxpayers to shoulder an even greater burden for operating our public schools. The cost to districts losing students could be devastating if they must pay for students who leave. The loss of even a few students could have a terrible effect on a small school district.
The current law as it exists today does not allow districts any discretion on how many students to accept. This would mean the end of local control for public schools. Our district prides itself - and pays taxes to provide - small class sizes because we believe that contributes to excellence in education. We would lose this point of pride if we have no control of how many students enroll.
Who will pay the costs of special education? In St. Louis County, taxpayers fund the Special School District. Who will reimburse the Special School District for students who enter county schools from other counties? Or will the Special School District - and St. Louis County taxpayers - be responsible for those high costs?
Property taxes are the WGSD's primary source of revenue. We pay those taxes - and voted to increase them last year - to support our schools and students. Without funding and little discretion over how many additional students might enroll from outside our district, the Webster Groves School District could be stretched to its limits, stealing the focus away from what is most important to us - educating our children.
I support Rep. Stream's legislation, which provides some local control to our school district. If the state pushes forward with these changes, at a minimum it ought to ensure that local districts have discretion on how many children they accept from outside their borders and how any such program would operate.
Thank you for your consideration.