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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri education officials are seeking an additional $6.8 million to help an unaccredited school district in the St. Louis area.
The State Board of Education approved the budget request Tuesday for the Normandy district. That's the first step in a process that ultimately requires the support of the governor and Legislature to become a reality.
Students started transferring out of the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts this year under a state law that requires unaccredited districts to pay the costs for students who want to attend other public schools.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says Normandy is projected to run out of money in March.
The additional funding recommended Tuesday would come as a supplemental state budget item to be considered after lawmakers convene in January.
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.
Missouri school districts and parents are getting a more detailed picture school performance with the release of the state's new rating system today. The new system replaces the old 14 point scale with a percentage score based on test scores, attendance, graduation rates and other criteria.
The changes mean finer distinctions between high-performing districts.
It could also mean more districts lose accreditation, including two local districts that don't quite measure up under the new standards: University City and Ferguson-Florissant. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that state officials are not likely to use the scores to take away accreditation until at least 2015, when they have three years of data to consider.
The figures show just how far struggling school districts have to go to become fully accredited again. The unaccredited Normandy district earned just 11 percent. The unaccredited Riverview Gardens district faired a little better at just under 29 percent. And the provisionally accredited St. Louis Public Schools scored just below 25 percent. Districts need 50 percent for provisional accreditation and 70 percent or more to be fully accredited.
The Riverview Gardens School District will pay $3,675 each day to bus about 1,400 transfer students to Mehlville and Kirkwood. That was the winning bid among six companies vying for the contract.
The half-million dollar contract with First Student Transportation was approved Tuesday. The unaccredited district will also pay about $12,000 in annual tuition for each transfer student.
District officials say their finances are stable for this school year, but there could be trouble if the transfers continue next year.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) - A wave of school transfers spurred by a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling is opening old wounds and reviving difficult conversations in St. Louis about race, class and equal access to public education.
Nearly 2,600 students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts are leaving for better-performing schools in other districts, with the two troubled districts required to pay an estimated $30 million to accommodate the moves. School leaders say it's only a matter of time before they go bankrupt.
Parents, politicians and community leaders in some outlying districts say they worry the newcomers will bring increased delinquency, larger class sizes and lower test scores. Much of the outrage was on display last month at public school board meeting of the Francis Howell district, which begins classes on Thursday.
School starts in Kirkwood on August 20th and Tuesday night parents in the south county district learned how their schools will be affected by the transfer of more than 150 students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens.
Kirkwood School Board spokesperson Ginger Cayce says class sizes may fluctuate slightly, but not enough to cause concern. Cayce says the $12,000 per transfer student that the district will receive will cover the cost of any extra resources needed. Cayce says the money would be spent on "technology, support staff resources, and any additional teachers or teachers aides we might need in the classroom."
About 650 people attended Tuesday night's meeting at Kirkwood High. There were questions about test scores and athletic opportunities, but most showed support for the students coming from the unaccredited districts. One man even donated money to help cover "incidental costs" for transfer students. He called on others with the means to do so as well.
Mehlville Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost says the district is making every effort to place students transferring in from Riverview Gardens without compromising the education of any student in the district.
Knost released a statement Monday evening in response to a lawsuit from the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri on behalf of three Riverview Gardens parents.
Mehlville has limited the number students it will accept from the unaccredited district in an effort to retain current class size limits and staffing levels, but the school-choice advocacy group says there's room for more than the 216 the district has accepted.
Knost says the District will work with legal counsel to respond appropriately to the court action.
As the start of the new school year fast approaches, more than 300 students who want to transfer out of the troubled Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts still don't know where they'll attend classes. That's because of the limited availability of open seats in some districts they've applied to attend.
Many students didn't get into one of their first three choices of districts, or didn't list more than one choice. So officials with the Cooperating School Districts have extended the application deadline for the still unassigned transfer students.
Families can submit a new list of choices. Those who don't re-apply on the Cooperating School Districts website by noon Monday will not be able to transfer out of the unaccredited districts.
All of the Normandy students transferring to Francis Howell Districts did get their requests filled. About 2,400 Riverview Garden students have also received transfer assignments.
The Mehlville school district won't hire more teacher or enlarge class sizes in order to accommodate students transferring in from the unaccredited Riverview Gardens School District.
The Mehlville school board supported their superintendent's position and set class size limits Thursday night. That will allow the district to accept only 150 of the roughly 450 students who've applied to transfer.
A lottery will be held August 2nd to determine which students can make the switch from Riverview Gardens to Mehlville.
More than 200 parents attended last night's school board meeting at Mehlville High School. Many expressed concerns about the cost of busing and the number of hours students will spend in transit. Others were concerned that the transfer students will put a drain on the Mehlville district.
Mehlville Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost has said that maintaining the district's small class sizes is key to maintaining educational excellence.