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Missouri Struggles to Improve Schools

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - The Missouri Senate passed two bills that would bring significant changes to the state's struggling school districts.

One bill would allow expansion of charter schools in lagging districts.

The other would allow the state to intervene more quickly to make changes in districts that have lost accreditation.

Both bills now go to the House.

Currently, only the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts are allowed to have charter schools.

The Senate measure, passed by 31-2 vote, would allow charter schools to be set up in districts that have been unaccredited, or in provisionally accredited districts that have had that status, along with consistently poor test scores, for three consecutive years, starting next year.

It would also allow charter schools in accredited school districts, so long as the charter school is sponsored by the local school board.

The other bill, which passed by 33-1 vote, would remove the 2-year waiting period given to districts that lose their accreditation before state officials can intervene.

It would allow the state Board of Education, after revoking a district's accreditation, to decide whether to set conditions for the local school board to remain in place and to determine when an alternative system for those schools would take effect.

Three state school districts - Kansas City, St. Louis and Riverview Gardens - lack accreditation today.

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