ST. LOUIS (AP) — The state's top education official says an unaccredited St. Louis area district is expected to run out of money this year paying for students to transfer to accredited districts.
Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said Friday that the state would be going to the Legislature for help.
The Riverview Gardens and Normandy districts are unaccredited, and a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling allows students to transfer to accredited districts. Estimates show the transfers could cost the districts as much as $30 million.
Nicastro says the state is trying to determine when Normandy won't be able to cover its expenses. State data shows Normandy had $8.6 million in reserve and Riverview Gardens $28.6 million at the end of the 2011 through 2012 school year, the most recent year information is available.
The deadline for families to apply to send their youngsters to an accredited school district is fast approaching.
Applications for student transfers from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are due Thursday. Over two-thousand students from the two failing school districts have applied for transfer into the Francis Howell, Mehville and Kirkwood districts.
This action is a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling, stating that students in unaccredited districts have the right to transfer to higher performing school districts within the same county or in a neighboring county.
Families of Normandy students are invited to a town hall meeting tonight.
Officials will discuss how the transfer of students will affect the unaccredited district. 700 Normandy students have applied to transfer to other districts. The meeting will start at 6:30 tonight and be held at the St. Louis County Library branch on Natural Bridge.
Meeting organizers argue that the transfer of that many students could bankrupt the Normandy School District. Normandy is responsible for covering the tuition cost of any transferring student.
Officials with the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are hoping they can talk parents into keeping their kids enrolled as they try to rebuild the failing districts.
About 1,000 people gathered Monday night to listen to improvement plans from both districts' superintendents at a meeting at Shalom Church City of Peace in Florissant. Both men took over leadership of their districts on July 1.
So far, more than 1,300 students have applied to transfer out of the unaccredited districts. Both superintendents admit that will hurt the districts financially.
Riverview superintendent Scott Spurgeon said, "Any student, even one child that wants to leave our district, certainly would have a financial impact on us."
"I don't think it will bankrupt us, but it might put us in financial distress," Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols said.
Superintendents of Jennings, Hazelwood and Ferguson-Florissant school districts attended the meeting to show support for those charged with rebuilding the failing districts. But also say they'll welcome any students who chose to transfer.
The transfer application deadline is August 1.
Normandy School District officials will meet with parents Tuesday to answer their questions after announcing that the unaccredited district will pay to bus students to schools in the Francis Howell District in St. Charles beginning this fall.
The announcement comes on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling allowing students attending unaccredited districts to transfer to high performing schools.
All Normandy students in grades K-12 can participate in the transfer program at the district's expense. Parents can begin the transfer process July 9th at Normandy School District headquarters.
Tuesday's meeting with parents begins at 3 p.m. at the Normandy District offices.
The case was scheduled to be heard Wednesday. But the court agreed to move it to March 5 because of this week's snowstorm.
The school transfer case was filed by families who were paying to send their children to public schools in suburban Clayton when St. Louis lost accreditation in 2007. They argued St. Louis should pick up the tab.
But the St. Louis district is no longer subject to the law after regaining provisional accreditation last year. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has argued that the change in St. Louis' accreditation status makes the case largely moot.