167.263. 1. A program to provide teacher assistants in regular classrooms in grades kindergarten through three is established. For the purposes of this section a “teacher assistant” is defined as a qualified person employed by a school district to assist a certificated teacher in classroom instruction and management. No teacher assistant shall be counted as a teacher for the purposes of establishing ratios of teachers to pupils in a classroom, school or school district. Any public elementary school containing such grades which meets the criteria pursuant to this section shall be eligible for a state financial supplement to employ teacher assistants. Eligibility criteria are that the school shall have a breakfast program, the school shall serve at least forty percent of its lunches to pupils who are eligible for free or reduced price meals according to federal guidelines, and the school shall have a reading intervention plan pursuant to section 167.268.

2. A school district which contains such eligible schools may apply to the department of elementary and secondary education for a state financial supplement to employ teacher assistants in those schools named in the application and in no other schools of the district. The state full-time equivalent financial supplement shall be three thousand dollars per teacher assistant. No more than one assistant per classroom shall be supplemented by the state pursuant to this section. Teacher assistants thus employed pursuant to this section shall assist teachers in grades kindergarten through three and in no other grades. School districts shall not apply for or assign teacher assistants employed pursuant to this section in classrooms designated as special education or compensatory education classrooms.

3. The state board of education shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of this section. Such rules shall include identifying minimum qualifications for teacher assistants which may include teacher education students, determining the minimum number of pupils per classroom to be eligible for a teacher assistant, establishing application procedures for school districts, and determining a method of awarding state financial supplements in the event that the number of applications exceeds the amounts appropriated therefor. No rule or portion of a rule promulgated under the authority of this chapter shall become effective unless it has been promulgated pursuant to the provisions of section 536.024, RSMo.

(L. 1990 S.B. 740 § 3, A.L. 1993 S.B. 52, A.L. 1995 S.B. 3)