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.
Most of the students who were given the chance to transfer out of the struggling Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts are still attending their new schools.
Nearly 2300 transfer students were attending classes in 24 districts across the St. Louis metro area, according to numbers compiled by Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis last month.
About 500 students who could have transferred, opted to stay in their home districts. Don Senti, executive director of Cooperating School Districts told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that transportation is a problem. Senti says it's too difficult for some students to get to school in districts where transportation isn't provided.
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.
The many issues surrounding education in Missouri has lawmakers taking a closer look at student transfers, teacher evaluations and school safety. An interim House committee on education is holding hearings on those and other topics this week in several communities. Meetings today in St. Charles and St. Louis will focus on student transfers out of unaccredited districts. This fall, students from the Riverview Gardens and Normandy districts became the first in Missouri to transfer to neighboring districts. Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Education has scheduled a hearing October 1 in Jefferson City focused solely on student transfers.