Parents of students in the Riverview Gardens and Normandy School Districts came together for a rally this morning.
The parents are issuing a call for higher quality education. Attendees argued that it was unfair for Mehlville to turn students away because of class-size concerns. The parents also called on Riverview Gardens and Normandy to become more transparent this school year.
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.
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.
Student leaders and over a hundred mentors spent time transitioning Normandy students to the Francis Howell School District.
475 Normandy students made the leap to the accredited district. The number breaks down to 168 elementary school students, 164, middle school students, and 143 high schoolers. The kids spent the day getting tours of the schools, participating in team-building activities, and locating their lockers.
The first day of school is Thursday.
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.
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.
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.