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   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Reining in a wide-open Missouri school transfer law could involve first directing students to better schools within the struggling school district if there is space.
   Missouri's current student transfer law requires districts without state accreditation to pay tuition and provide transportation for students to transfer to an accredited school in the same county or a bordering one.
   Lawmakers have proposed controlling out-of-district transfers by redirecting students first from struggling schools to high-performing ones in the same district. The current transfer option would remain for students attending unaccredited schools within unaccredited districts and who cannot move to a higher-performing school within their home school system.
   Missouri's three unaccredited districts are Kansas City, along with Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County. Transfers have occurred at both St. Louis County districts.
 
Published in Local News
   Normandy school officials, parents and students are waiting to see if Missouri legislators will provide the struggling district with the emergency funds it needs to make it through the school year.  Officials say without state aid, the district will be bankrupt by April after spending millions of dollars on tuition and busing for students who've transferred out of the unaccredited district.  
   So what will happen if lawmakers refuse the five-million dollar request and the district runs out of money before the school year ends?  
   Missouri Education Commissioner, Chris Nicastro tells Fox 2 News if that happens, the Normandy schools would most likely be closed. "In the short term at least, I think the only viable option would be for the state board to assign those kids to go to school elsewhere," she said.
   Nicastro says she'll be meeting with Normandy District officials on Wednesday to discuss the districts financial crisis.
 
Published in Local News
   Missouri education officials are considering a plan that would eliminate the school transfer program by dissolving unaccredited districts like Normandy and Riverview Gardens.  The CEE-Trust proposal presented Monday, would hand control of individual schools to non-profit groups accountable to a state-run office. 
   State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told Fox 2 News that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sought the proposal because the current transfer system isn't sustainable. "Ultimately, any district that ends up sending students to another, with the current tuition calculation, will end up going bankrupt," she said.  Officials with the unaccredited Normandy School District have said that without a cash infusion from the state, they will run out of money this spring. 
   Under the CEE-Trust plan, decisions about curriculum, staffing and budgets would be made at each school.  The state-run Office of Community Schools would handle systemic issues like busing and building maintenance.  
   Mark Jones of the Missouri NEA, a state teacher's union, expressed skepticism.  Jones told Fox 2 News that the proposal sounds like a clever marketing scheme. "This just simply looks like a rebranding of charter schools that have demonstrated a lack of accountability and a lack of oversight," Jones said.
   The proposal is one of several being considered by the state.  The board will gather public input in St. Louis on February 4, then try to make a decision at its meeting, February 18.
 
 
 
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 03:30

MO supers offer student-transfer woes solution

   KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of Missouri school superintendents has developed an alternative to a state law allowing students to transfer from unaccredited to accredited districts.

   The Kansas City Star reports that under the plan, students in struggling districts could transfer to better-performing schools in their home districts. And after five years of failure, districts could be dissolved and distributed to accredited districts.

   Twenty leaders from around Missouri drafted the school-improvement plan and provided it to The Star on Monday. The draft says the existing transfer law "is not in the best interest of all students and will not lead to improvement of unaccredited districts."

   A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro hasn't yet had a chance to review the proposal.

 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 24 October 2013 04:43

Normandy to cut more than 100 teachers

   Normandy Schools Superintendent Ty McNichols will outline proposed budget cuts at Thursday night's school board meeting.  But Wednesday, district officials briefed employees about the plan as the struggling district tries to cover transfer costs for hundreds of students.  

   Teachers learned yesterday that 103 of the district's 650 employees will lose their jobs by the end of December.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that layoff notices will go out next month.  

   District officials say class sizes could go as high as 29 students and Bel-Nor Elementary School is expected to close.

   The district is projecting a $6.8 million shortfall this school year because of the added cost of the state mandated school transfer program.

Published in Local News

   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.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri education officials say it's in the best interest of students transferring from unaccredited to accredited school districts to do so at the beginning of the school year.

But the Missouri Department of Education said in its latest guidance to schools that if there are extenuating circumstances, receiving districts should consider transfers at the semester based on available room.

Two unaccredited St. Louis County districts are now subject to the transfer law. Figures reported at the start of the school year indicate 1,451 transferred from Riverview Gardens and 1,189 students left Normandy.

So far, no transfers are happening in Kansas City because of a pending court case. After faring well on a school performance report, the Kansas City district is seeking to regain accreditation before it's subject to the law.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court again is considering a court challenge to a law permitting students to transfer from unaccredited school districts to other districts nearby.

The court upheld the law earlier in a case from the St. Louis area. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court's focus turned to Kansas City, which has been unaccredited since 2012.

Taxpayers from five surrounding districts filed suit and contend the transfer law is an unfunded mandate violating the Missouri Constitution.

A Jackson County judge ruled in favor of the Independence, Lee's Summit and North Kansas City plaintiffs but rejected the argument for Blue Springs and Raytown. The state and some plaintiffs appealed.

Transfers from Kansas City schools have been on hold, but student transfers have caused acrimony in the St. Louis area.

 

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

COTTLEVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A panel of Missouri lawmakers came to suburban St. Louis on Monday for some firsthand testimony about the challenges of the state's school transfer rules.

Several area superintendents asked the interim House Committee on Education to seek a long-term fix to what they called a short-term solution to the problem of relocating students from failing school districts to better-performing ones.

The public hearing at St. Charles Community College came just weeks after hundreds of students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens began the fall semester riding buses to schools up to 20 to 30 miles away, with their former districts absorbing the added costs.

A second meeting is planned Monday night in St. Louis. Additional sessions are planned Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Branson and Joplin.

 

Published in Local News
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