Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit has filed legislation proposing a “three-pronged” approach to reform K-12 education in Missouri. Senate Bill 815 would use several changes to provide school districts with more than a “one size fits all policy.”

With merit-based teacher salaries and allowing a year-round schedule leading the way, one Missouri Senator hopes to reform the state’s public education system.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit has filed legislation proposing a “three-pronged” approach to reform K-12 education in Missouri. Senate Bill 815 would use several changes to provide school districts with more than a “one size fits all policy.”

“I believe there is a lot of frustration in the state with many of our larger school districts and how they are performing. I feel like a lot of people are looking for solutions,” Bartle said. “Let’s just not talk about ideas, but let’s put together a practical plan for our schools to be successful.”

Bartle emphasized that what is being proposed in SB815 are not mandates. It would only make it legal for school districts to do certain things that are not currently allowed. The changes in SB815 include:

n Merit-based teacher salaries. In St. Louis, teachers are given the option to receive performance-based salary stipends, rather than the traditional salary schedule which pays teachers based on experience and years of education. Under the bill, all public school teachers would be eligible for such a program.

n Allowing for a year-round schedule. Currently, the school schedule is based on what Bartle refers to as  “an outdated model” from an era when students were needed to help with the harvest. If approved, school districts would have the option to adopt a year-round educational approach.

Districts would have to meet for the minimum number of school days currently required, but would be allowed to divide the traditional three-month summer break into a series of shorter breaks – none lasting for more than four weeks.

n Implementing multiple kindergarten start dates. Right now, children can start kindergarten and because of their birth date, be almost one year younger than other students in their class.

Bartle said he believes that this “unfairly penalizes younger, less mature children” who are being grouped with those who are older.

SB815 stipulates that a parent could choose between one of two start dates for their kindergartner – one in the fall and one in the winter.

“I don’t know what kind of chance it has,” he said about the likelihood that the bill will move forward. “I think it might be dependent on the teachers groups being open to new ideas. If my colleagues listen carefully, it just might have a chance.”