On a recent KTTN Open Line with John Anthony, Twelfth District State Senator Rusty Black of Chillicothe expressed his stance against a four-day school week. He believes in traditional schooling methods.
He mentioned that legislation had been introduced in the past few years to eliminate four-day school weeks, especially in certain-sized schools. Black anticipates further legislation on this topic next year.
At this juncture, Black feels he should not prevent schools from opting for four-day weeks.
Black commented that some argue that four-day weeks are a result of underfunding, a claim he, as a former agriculture teacher, does not fully endorse.
He recognized that some school boards desire to retain local control over their four-day week decisions.
Black anticipates a definitive yes or no vote on this matter during his tenure in the State Senate, acknowledging the decision’s potential to both disappoint and please different groups.
The Missouri Legislature passed Senate Bill 51 this year, focusing on physical therapists. Senator Black noted that this bill allows physical therapists to see patients up to 10 times without a doctor’s prescription. Missouri was among the few states lacking this provision.
Black remarked on the challenging negotiations involved in passing this bill.
Senate Bill 75, another legislative achievement, revolved around retirement systems. Black, having worked on most components of this bill for four years, highlighted its focus on the teachers’ retirement system. The bill permits retired teachers to return to classrooms or non-certified school roles without forfeiting their retirement benefits.
The bill also included measures to improve the Kansas City public retirement system. It aims to fill vacancies temporarily until younger replacements are found.
Senate Bill 75 enables retired teachers to teach for up to four additional years and earn more through bus driving, coaching, and non-certified jobs. It addresses the “critical shortage” in these areas.
The legislation also bolstered the sheriff’s retirement fund and the Saint Louis police officer retirement fund.
Senator Black anticipates that education will be a prominent topic in the next legislative session, including discussions on four-day school weeks and broader education reform.
Black’s background as an agriculture instructor shapes his perspectives on these issues.
He also foresees debates on foreign real estate ownership in Missouri and anticipates rigorous budget scrutiny, especially regarding the Federal Reimbursement Allowance Tax. This tax, essential for drawing federal Medicaid funds, significantly impacts the state budget.
If the FRA tax bill fails, Black warns of a potential $4 billion shortfall in Missouri’s budget.
With an election year approaching, Black expects political speeches in the State House and Senate. He predicts lively campaigns for various political positions.
Black, currently the vice chairperson of the Agriculture Committee and a member of the Appropriations, General Laws, and Pensions and Military Affairs committees, anticipates maintaining his committee assignments.