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   A new requirement for students who want to transfer out of an unaccredited school district could catch families off guard.  The Riverview Gardens School District is now requiring families to attend an in-person interview by February 3rd if their student wants transfer away.  They must also fill out an "Intent to Return" form.
   Those who miss the interview deadline or fail to get the forms in won't be allowed to transfer -- even if they participated in the transfer program this year.  
   That's why the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) is holding two meetings this month to help inform parents of the new requirements.
   "Unfortunately, this new requirement will serve as a barrier for students and parents who wish to transfer," said Kate Casas, state director, CEAM.  "A lot of parents aren't aware of this new step and will be in danger of missing this critical deadline, which will mean that their child won't be able to exercise their right to transfer, as guaranteed under the Outstanding Schools Act." 
   Town Hall meetings will be held January 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library and January 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Indian Trails Library. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at 314-561-8646.
 
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

   The Normandy School District will pay the tuition bills for students who've transferred away from the unaccredited district.  The school board voted Wednesday night to reverse its October decision to withhold the funds.  

   Board members had objected to paying the nearly $1.4 million bill because the cash strapped district is already struggling to cover the cost of educating its remaining students.  But withholding of the tuition had put the district at odds with state law, and in jeopardy of losing state funds.

  Parents and teachers again asked the board to reconsider planned budget cuts that will result in teacher layoffs and one school closure.

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

   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.

Published in Local News

   Normandy officials say it's too soon to say whether the cost of hundreds of students transferring out of the unaccredited district will lead to major budget cuts.  

   Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Mick Willis, told board members Wednesday night that staffing levels, the number of buildings the district can operate and the number of services it can provide are largely driven by the number of students enrolled in the district.

   "We have to pay a lot of attention to enrollment, what those numbers look like," Willis said.  "And then where we should be relative to those enrollment numbers."

   A final budget recommendation will be made to the board in June, after property tax revenues are determined.

   Parents who attended Wednesday's board meeting were more concerned about the district's progress toward accreditation.

 

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
Monday, 23 September 2013 11:05

Education a priority for Missouri lawmakers

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.

   

 
Published in Local News

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.

 

Published in Local News
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