The bill would allow students to apply to enroll in a closer school if they meet certain criteria.
To qualify, a student's current school must be at least 10 miles from where they live and the new school must be at least 5 miles closer. A school does not have to allow a student to transfer if the desired class is full.
The bill sponsor, Rep. Rodney Schad, R-Versailles, said living far away from schools causes students to miss class.
“It is a situation where these kids are exhausted sometimes. Time is taken away from them and their parents, because they are riding these long school bus rides,” Schad said.
Opponents of the bill say this could lead to "open enrollment" where students can choose any public school in the state to attend.
Rep. Joe Aull said although the intention of the bill is good, it has too many uncertainties and someone could take advantage.
“District boundaries are set for a reason, and I’m worried about what’s going to happen in the future,” Aull said.
Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, opposed the bill.
She said she had also experienced long school bus travel when she was a kid, but she do not think it impacted her education experience at all. She said she was concerned about resource distribution.
“It can ruin the entire [lower education] system,” Montecillo said.
The Majority Floor Leader Rep. Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, said he was happy to see the bill passed.
“Many representatives who were a little timid about education reform voted for this bill. I was thrilled with the result, I think it's also a victory for parents and tax payers today,” Jones said.
The bill passed with a close vote of 85 - 72 and now moves to the Senate.