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.
The State of Missouri may have to pay part of the costs for the school transfer program. The unaccredited Normandy School District will spend between 15 and 18 million dollars to send hundreds of students to Francis Howell and other, better performing districts. Missouri Education Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro told Fox 2 News that at that rate, Normandy will likely run out of money before the end of the school year.
"If Normandy cannot meet their obligations, then there's going to have to be some money come from somewhere," Nicastro said. "The legislature's the only body I know of that can appropriate those funds."
Dr. Nicastro says the costs could go up next year. That's when new education standards kick in across the state, which she believes will cause more districts to become unaccredited.
475 new students from the Normandy school district are attending classes some 20 miles from their school they used to attend.
The new students began boarding buses as early as 6 a.m. today. The transfers are the result of a Missouri Supreme Court ruling five weeks ago that allowed students in unaccredited districts to transfer to better performing schools.
Sheri Wilson has two daughters currently at Francis Howell Central High and tells KTRS News, "My girls are open-hearted and they don't see this as any different as any other child transferring in from any other school so they're looking forward to it."
All but one bus made it on time after going to the wrong high school. Students were taken to Francis Howell High instead of Francis Howell Central High and arrived 40 minutes late.
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.
The Francis Howell school board will meet Thursday night to hammer out the nuts and bolts of accepting transfer students from the failing Normandy school district. The board will vote on issues including class size limits, tuition and a payment schedule.
District officials want average class sizes to remain at or below desirable levels outlined by the state department of education. At that level, the district would have room for about 600 transfer students. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that as of Wednesday, 196 students had applied to transfer into the district.
The district is also expected to approve a tuition rate of $11,034 per student, enough to allow them to hire a part time administrator to answer parents' questions, and assist in placing transfer students from Normandy.
Normandy students have until August 1 to file transfer applications. Class begins in Francis Howell schools on August 8.
Many parents in the Francis Howell School District say they're concerned about the impact of students from the unaccredited Normandy District transferring to their schools. Several sounded off at a town hall meeting Thursday night at Howell Central High School in Cottleville.
Some expresses concerns about resources being channeled to transferring students who are academically behind. Other's were concerned that about violence that may come to Francis Howell from Normandy, a district that has struggled with violence in its schools.
Francis Howell superintendent Dr. Pam Sloan spoke openly about her opposition to the transfers, saying that busing kids to a new district isn't the way to fix a failing one.
But not everyone in the district is so concerned. Francis Howell senior class president Eric Lee cautioned the crowd not to make assumptions about the students transferring in from Normandy. Lee said it's not right to assume the kids who choose to transfer are going to cause problems.
District officials won't know until August 2nd how many Normandy students plan to transfer.