The Kansas City School Board has additional time to boost academic achievement after the Missouri General Assembly failed to take action on a state takeover bill.
Giving the Missouri Board of Education greater power to take over struggling districts sooner drew bipartisan support.
But the measure died because of a tussle over a separate education issue.
The Senate had passed a bill that would give the state power to step in immediately to take over an unaccredited district rather than waiting more than two years, as current law requires. The state has taken over the St. Louis school district.
Kansas City and a third district are also unaccredited. And many believe the best way to right the Kansas City district is a state takeover.
But the House's measure included an amendment tied to a separate education issue involving teachers. The Senate balked at passing the House-supported measure because of the amendment.
House Republicans leaders wouldn't back down and strip the amendment.
The stalemate frustrated many, but left supporters of the current governance structure pleased.
State Sen. Jolie Justus, a Democrat from Kansas City, had supported giving the state the power to intervene sooner. She lashed out at her colleagues.
She said 17,000 students "are in the lurch for another two years." She pointed the finger at both unions and "reformers."
"Both are to blame," she said. "Both of you."
State Sen. Kiki Curls, another Democrat from Kansas City, said she was baffled by the lack of action.
"I don't get it," she said. "This is what we're here for."
Waiting to the last minute to decide important issues is typical of the Missouri General Assembly, said Andrea Flinders, head of the Kansas City teachers union.
"It's kind of how Missouri works, how the Legislature works... It all comes down to the wire," Flinders said. "We've totally lost sight of the kids and the teachers. It's all about the politics right now."
Gwen Grant, head of the Urban League of Kansas City, said further delays will only hurt students.
"Too much is at stake and children deserve a quality education," Grant said.
School board President Airick West declined an interview request.
Flinders said ultimately the community and district must come together.
"There is no bill that is going to fix all the issues in the Kansas City School District," Flinders said. "It's going to take more than legislation. It's going to take people working together."
The Missouri General Assembly's official adjournment time is always set at 6 p.m.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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