Navigating Senate Bill 603

Savannah WaszczukBreaking News

Navigating Senate Bill 603

What do Missouri’s modified virtual education provisions mean for your school district? We break down SB 603 and explain how Launch offers a solution to the new legislation.

Senate Bill 603

“We are purpose driven. We are not profit driven.” As Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann stood in front of a crowd of educators explaining the true mission of Launch, a Missouri virtual course program that began in Springfield in January 2017 and has grown rapidly by partnering with districts statewide to provide quality online course options to thousands of Missouri learners, this is the point he aimed to drive home. Fast forward 18 months, and Launch’s focus has never been more important. On June 1, 2018, former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed Senate Bill 603, legislation that modifies provisions relating to virtual education. The bill changes the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP) to “The Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program” and allows eligible students to enroll in online program courses of their choice to be paid by the school district. The school district is required to pay for the course, as long as it is in the best interest of the child’s education. And that “best interest of the child’s education” part is what prompts districts to ask questions.

“What I suspect is going to happen—what I worry is going to happen—is that a lot of for-profit companies are going to come in, and they’re going to apply to DESE,” says Susan Goldammer, the Missouri School Boards’ Association’s associate executive director of employment and labor relations.

The underlying for-profit motive of many online course providers—many of which may be becoming approved Missouri virtual providers at this very moment—is what helps elevate Launch to the limelight in a sea of legislative mayhem. As Dr. Jungmann said from the beginning, Launch has never had a for-profit motive—it even recently announced a 15 percent reduction in tuition for the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters thanks to statewide growth. Instead, Launch’s driving purpose has always had the students’ best interest in mind—that’s why all curriculum is developed using Missouri Learning Standards and all courses are taught by highly-qualified Missouri educators. The tuition that Launch does receive stays in Missouri and is used to pay Launch teachers employed at partner districts statewide.

While this new legislation requires what districts must do—they must offer this collection of virtual courses to students—it does not state what districts must not do. That’s why Springfield Public Schools and other Launch partner districts have confidently made the decision to offer and promote Launch courses to Missouri learners.

As changes in legislation continue, many district leaders across the state continue to believe in Launch, and they are not alone. “It sounds like you all have a great program going,” Goldammer says.

Launch Your District’s Online Solution
  1. Become a Launch Partner.
    Not a Launch partner yet? No worries! Contact Marketing & Engagement Manager Savannah Waszczuk (417-523-0417, savannah@fueledbylaunch.com) to get started.
  2. Market Launch’s Courses to Parents and Students.
    Senate Bill 603 requires that Missouri school districts inform students of the state’s selection of virtual courses.Promote Launch courses in handbooks, on registration documents, on your district’s homepage and anywhere else you may advertise the state’s selection of virtual courses.
  3. Educate, Engage and Enroll.
    Make continued efforts to educate parents and students on why Launch is the best option for students, and enroll students in courses at fueledbylaunch.com