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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Fewer students in two unaccredited suburban St. Louis school districts are transferring to better-performing districts for the 2014-15 school year.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a combined 2,200 students transferred for the current school year from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts. The transfers came quickly after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled last summer that students from unaccredited districts can transfer at their home district's expense.
 
The deadline for parents to apply to transfer for the next school year was Monday. Normandy had 123 applications, and Riverview Gardens has had 73, though Riverview Gardens extended its deadline until Friday.
 
The amount of room available for new students to transfer has not been determined. Receiving districts are not planning to release the number of vacancies until June.
Published in Local News
   A new requirement for students who want to transfer out of an unaccredited school district could catch families off guard.  The Riverview Gardens School District is now requiring families to attend an in-person interview by February 3rd if their student wants transfer away.  They must also fill out an "Intent to Return" form.
   Those who miss the interview deadline or fail to get the forms in won't be allowed to transfer -- even if they participated in the transfer program this year.  
   That's why the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) is holding two meetings this month to help inform parents of the new requirements.
   "Unfortunately, this new requirement will serve as a barrier for students and parents who wish to transfer," said Kate Casas, state director, CEAM.  "A lot of parents aren't aware of this new step and will be in danger of missing this critical deadline, which will mean that their child won't be able to exercise their right to transfer, as guaranteed under the Outstanding Schools Act." 
   Town Hall meetings will be held January 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library and January 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Indian Trails Library. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at 314-561-8646.
 
Published in Local News

   The Normandy School District will pay the tuition bills for students who've transferred away from the unaccredited district.  The school board voted Wednesday night to reverse its October decision to withhold the funds.  

   Board members had objected to paying the nearly $1.4 million bill because the cash strapped district is already struggling to cover the cost of educating its remaining students.  But withholding of the tuition had put the district at odds with state law, and in jeopardy of losing state funds.

  Parents and teachers again asked the board to reconsider planned budget cuts that will result in teacher layoffs and one school closure.

Published in Local News

   Parents in the Normandy School District plan to hold a town hall meeting Monday to discuss the financial and academic problems in the struggling district.  

   Last week the school board voted to cut more than 100 jobs, including 70 teachers and close Bel Nor Elementary School in an effort to keep from going bankrupt over of the costs of the state-mandated transfer program. The unaccredited district must pay for more than 1,000 students to attend schools in other districts.  

   But the School board voted last week not to pay the tuition and transportation bills associated with those transfers. 

   The Normandy Schools Town Hall Organization will host a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Natural Bridge Branch of the St. Louis County Library.

Published in Local News

   The Riverview Gardens School District will offset some of the $15 million they're spending on the school transfer program with a series of budget cuts, but no layoffs so far.  

   District officials outlined the cuts Tuesday.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the district will save as much as $3 million by leaving teacher vacancies unfilled, slashing the professional development budget, modifying the busing contract and through other savings in technology and facilities costs.  

   Even with the budget cuts, the district will be more than $7 million in the red if transfer costs remain the same in the 2014-15 school year.

   Teachers in the Normandy District have been told they won't avoid layoffs as that district deals with transfer costs.   On Thursday, Superintendent Ty McNichols will present a staff reduction plan that could include a school closing.  Normandy officials say they will run $6.8 million short before the end of this school year.

   After the state Supreme Court upheld Missouri’s school transfer law, more than 2,000 students opted to transfer out of the unaccredited districts and attend better performing schools.  Under the law, their home districts must cover costs.

Published in Local News

   Normandy officials say it's too soon to say whether the cost of hundreds of students transferring out of the unaccredited district will lead to major budget cuts.  

   Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Mick Willis, told board members Wednesday night that staffing levels, the number of buildings the district can operate and the number of services it can provide are largely driven by the number of students enrolled in the district.

   "We have to pay a lot of attention to enrollment, what those numbers look like," Willis said.  "And then where we should be relative to those enrollment numbers."

   A final budget recommendation will be made to the board in June, after property tax revenues are determined.

   Parents who attended Wednesday's board meeting were more concerned about the district's progress toward accreditation.

 

Published in Local News

   There are a lot of problems with Missouri's school transfer law, but no easy solutions.  That's what state lawmakers heard from St. Louis area school administrators and state educators during five hours of hearings Tuesday.  

   The legislators are considering changes to the current law that allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer to better schools at the expense of their home district.  Issues of cost were a repeated theme yesterday.  

   Three districts in the state are currently unaccredited: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and Kansas City.  But with 11 other districts only having provisional accreditation and new state education standards, there is concern that the transfer situation could be much more widespread in the next few years.

Published in Local News

   The first tuition bill is in for Normandy students who transferred to Francis Howell.  

   Four hundred forty-nine transfer students began classes in Francis Howell schools on August 8th.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the total due now is just over $424,000.  Francis Howell Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple told the paper the bill was sent Tuesday via email.  

   Normandy officials say the invoice must be processed and approved by the school board, which could take a month or more.  

   Missouri education officials have suggested unaccredited districts pay tuition bills within 10 days.  State officials have also said they will withhold state aid distributions if an unaccredited district falls two months behind in paying transfer tuition.

Published in Local News

   Mehlville middle and high school students will have a ride home from after-school activities, even if they've transferred in from the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District.  

   The Mehlville School board approved a plan (5-2) Thursday to use district buses to haul students to north county after late activities.   The $76,000 needed will come from tuition received from the unaccredited district.  

   Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost says he expects at least 15 of the 215 transfer students will need the late ride each day.

   Riverview Gardens is responsible for general transportation costs, but it doesn't have to cover after-school activity runs.

 
Published in Local News

The Kirkwood School District prepares to receive hundreds of transfers from the Riverview Gardens schools.

Tuesday is the first day of classes. Monday night, is the final school board meeting before school begins. Officials are expected to discuss any last minute preparations for new students.

Riverview Gardens is paying tuition and transportation costs for 263 transferring students.

 
Published in Local News
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