Commentary: St. Louis’ Second Transfer Program

Aug 16, 2013

Because the St. Louis Metropolitan area did such an outstanding job with its first voluntary student transfer program, fortunately or unfortunately they have now been blessed with a second one.  This transfer program however, entails just two suburban school districts, Normandy and Riverview Gardens, both of which are unaccredited. As a result, their students may transfer to another school district in the region.  2640 students have signed up to transfer.     

Students may choose their top three districts. Transportation will only be provided to students to two pre selected school districts. Should transfer students want to go elsewhere they will have to provide their own transportation at their own expense.       

But this is just the start of the process to provide the best education possible for the most number of students.  The cost of the transfers for the two districts is expected to exceed $35,000,000 per year. And there are still the majority of students left in both Riverview Gardens and Normandy. 

There is the cost of educating those students who remain in their home schools. One of the biggest concerns is to provide the most effective educational programming for all students. It is questionable if there will be sufficient funds to provide transportation, pay for the per pupil cost of the transfer students, and enhanced educational programs in the home districts. Each of these districts has a new superintendent who will be facing obstacles they had not counted on when they arrived in St. Louis.

 The Missouri Department of Education has been and will be meeting with both of the unaccredited districts to determine how they can help them through this difficult period. Hopefully those districts will be receptive to that assistance. 

St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs have in the past surmounted many obstacles so this program should be nothing new. Past data show that the student transfers who had been in their transferred districts over time by 10th grade scored higher academically than their counterparts in their home district. And that program still exists today. There is no reason that this second one should be any different if Missouri procides sufficient financial aid to both sending districts. After all, it is the students whom are most important and the St. Louis region will only stand to gain from better educated students whom someday will be the leaders of tomorrow. Is there truly any other choice but to provide what is needed?

 Remember, this is the “Show Me State” and I am confident that we can and will show how one additional obstacle will not stop us. We have successfully run a student transfer program for many years (one of the best in the country) and it still exists; St. Louis has received provisional accreditation; state scores are beginning to improve and I am convinced that we will, once again, become winners.