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Bills would revamp St. Louis city schools

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A bill before the Missouri Senate would bring sweeping changes to St. Louis schools, including longer days, a longer school year, and mandatory uniforms.

It's sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeff Smith, who helped start a charter school in St. Louis. He acknowledges more time in the classroom might be a tough sell, but says it includes incentives, such as performance pay for both teachers and schools, and bonuses for teachers in critical subject matters: "Such as math, science, special needs education, and English as a second language."

"It has points that'll help retain, uh, math and science teachers," said Kim Roberson, a former city school teacher. "It keeps, I think it keeps them well-trained."

But St. Louis Schools Deputy Superintendent John Martin spoke in opposition to the bill before a Senate committee: "Performance pay, lotta research on it, works wonderfully, if you can support it. Every place that's made it work has a big wallet."

The St. Louis teachers' union also opposes the measure.

A committee vote hasn't been scheduled, and might not happen until next week at the earliest.