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School board challenges new law prohibiting recycling

Citing their obligation to support the constitution of the State of Missouri, the Parkway Board of Education has filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of a law passed by the Missouri Legislature that went into effect on August 28, 2010. In its petition, the school board asserts that House Bill 1692 violates the prohibition against special legislation under Article III, Section 40(30) of the Missouri Constitution.

“The constitution states that the general assembly cannot pass a law directed toward an individual school district if a general law can be made that applies equally to all districts,” says School Board President Bruce Major. “However, HB 1692 did just that.”

The law required Parkway to cease its recycling operation which had been in place for nearly 20 years. Parkway’s petition states that the language of the new law is so narrow that the only apparent reason for the legislation is to target the City of Chesterfield and Parkway School District and exclude all other cities and school districts. It created a new section of law stating the following:

“No school district located in any city of the third classification with more than 46,800 but fewer than 47,000 inhabitants shall operate a materials recovery and recycling facility within 500 feet of a residential property.”

“We are taking this action because we believe it is the right thing to do,” says Major. “This was clearly an effort to usurp one locally-elected school board’s authority and it sets a dangerous precedent that we feel obligated to challenge in the best interest of our students, our community and school districts across the state.”

Prior to the passage of HB 1692, Parkway was already evaluating alternatives to its recycling operation. On August 11, the school board voted to outsource and relocate the current in-house recycling program with a single-stream recovery program managed by a third-party vendor. Major says Parkway’s recycling program will continue to be outsourced even if this petition is successful. “We simply want this unusual and unconstitutional portion of the bill rescinded,” says Major.

Parkway currently recycles approximately 524 tons of materials annually from 30 school sites, including such items as cans, cardboard, paper and plastic. Parkway’s recycling efforts have received numerous awards and grants for environmental stewardship.