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Local school officials meet with Missouri lawmaker over controversial school bill

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SHELBY COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) -- Missouri state senator Cindy O'Laughlin met with a number of local superintendents and school board members on Saturday to discuss their concerns with Senate Bill 55, a bill O'Laughlin is one of the main sponsors for.

Knox County R-1 superintendent Andy Turgeon said their biggest concern with the legislation is how it could take funding away from public schools.

He said the bill would allow parents to use state tax-credit vouchers to pay for private school tuition.

Turgeon said other big concern is charter schools, which receive state funding.

Currently, they're only allowed to operate in St. Louis or Kansas City but the bill would allow them to operate anywhere, raising the possibility they could divert money from public schools already in need of more funding.

"Nobody likes to see less money in public schools," Turgeon said. "So when you are already trying to figure out ways to pay teachers more so that you can attract more teachers."

O'Laughlin said it was important the conversation took place as people need to have their opinions heard.

"People want to know not only that you're interested in what they are doing but that you hear what they have to say," she said.

The bill has yet to be perfected or voted on by the Senate but Turgeon said moving forward, communication will be key.

"I think the goal moving forward is that we need to have more communications like this," he said. "Face-to-face, just talk about how do we solve these problems together."

O'Laughlin said they're looking into creating a working group made up of different superintendents.

"We've talked about dividing the district into different areas and starting that in different areas," she said. "It will help me know the actual impact of things when they're suggested."

RELATED: Senate Bill 55 could cause changes for Missouri schools

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Jayda Hill

Jayda Hill is a Multimedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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