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Fast Track Bill Would Control K.C. Schools

Missouri state legislators have begun considering a bill that would make it easier for the state to operate the Kansas City School District. A first legislative hearing brought no opposition.

There was supporting testimony from the Missouri Education Commissioner and representatives of the Missouri School Boards' Association and the Missouri National Education Association.

>The bill doesn't specifically say what the state education department can do to step into affairs of the district. It does shorten the time for the State to act.

Current law allows a local district two years to regain lost accreditation,  a clock that began ticking for Kansas City this month.

Bill sponsor, Representative Mike Lair, who is a Chillicothe Republican, says the bill neither rules out nor endorses any operational plan for education, but gives what he calls "flexibility." Lair says the measure has the backing of the House Speaker and includes an emergency clause, allowing it to become law with the Governor's signature.

Lair is optimistic about fast passage, saying--"If it comes out of committee with a positive vote, and I have every inkling that it will, it then goes to the Speaker's office. He refers it to the floor leader. And the floor leader can put it on the floor whenever he wants."

There are other education plans in the State Capital dealing with troubled school districts and Lair says he hopes his measure won't get lost in an omnibus bill that addresses multiple issues.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has his own proposal to allow him to appoint operators of the school district.

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