The Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis (CSD) has placed 2,400 of the nearly 2,600 students who have applied to leave the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts.
All Normandy students who applied to go to Francis Howell were placed, and will receive transportation paid for by the unaccredited district.
But many Riverview Gardens students who applied to transfer to Kirkwood or Mehlville, the transportation options for that district, did not receive spots because the receiving districts ran out of room.
CSD, a consortium of area school districts that is overseeing the transfer process, is asking parents who did not get their children into districts they selected to pick other districts by noon tomorrow, and says no additional transportation options for Riverview Garden’s students will be provided.
Parents can choose from a list of districts with room to accept transfer students that CSD has posted on its website. Starting yesterday, CSD began placing calls to families who did not get children into their preferred districts to notifying them of the process moving forward.
As the deadline approaches, CSD will begin placing additional calls to parents who have not responded, and the entire process is set to be wrapped up Monday evening.
CSD’s Chief Marketing and Development Officer, Sherrie Wehner, said while the sample size is small, of the responses CSD has received so far, most are selecting districts with availability in all grades.
“As an example, you may want to go to one school district and you have a third, sixth and eighth grader, but that school district only has availability in the third and sixth grade, but not the eighth grade, and you don’t want to split up the kids,” Wehner said.
Some Missouri state lawmakers have indicated it’s likely that during next year’s legislative session there will be an attempt to change the law allowing the transfer process.
Wehner said even if the law is changed before the end of the school year, her expectation is that students will stay in the districts they have transferred to at least through the end of this year’s academic calendar.
Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said her department stands ready to assist with any alterations.
“I have heard some indication from some legislators that they are interested in doing something to alter this law,” Nicastro said. “They generally do seek our consultation when they start drafting legislation that impacts school districts, and I would suspect they might again. We certainly stand ready to help.”
Nicastro also said costs associated with the transfers may take an especially heavy financial toll on Normandy, which she indicated may run out of money this year.
"Once we know that number then we will work with the legislature to secure the necessary funding to cover their tuition costs, their transportation costs, and the cost of providing their current program for their remaining students through the balance of this school year," Nicastro said.
Estimates show the transfers could cost the districts as much as $30 million.
State data shows Normandy had $8.6 million in reserve and Riverview Gardens $28.6 million at the end of the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year information is available.
Original story on Friday, Aug. 2
Cooperating School Districts is in the process of placing the more than 2,500 students that applied to leave unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Garden Districts. The flight comes after a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding a Missouri law that unaccredited districts will have to pay for those wanting to leave for accredited schools.
As of Friday evening, CSD was a little more than halfway through placing the students fleeing the failing districts, and the process will have to go into the weekend. There’s also no information about what will be done for parents who were turned away after Thursday's deadline.
Angelisa Howard was one of the parents turned away. Her daughter, Brittany, is going to be a junior. She's been a student at Webster Groves since 7th grade, but they just moved into Normandy's district. Howard doesn't want her daughter to go to an unaccredited school.
"Before I let her go to Normandy, she'll be homeschooled or go to live with her daddy in Wisconsin. Period," Howard said. "(Webster Groves) helped me raise her to be a decent young lady."
Howard said she was in line Thursday to apply for transfer but was turned away. CSD could provide no details on what will happen to parents in similar situations. And there's still no word about Riverview Gardens choosing another district that they’ll provide transportation to, if they do.
"I'm not aware of any third district selection at this time," Sherrie Wehner with CSD said. "Many of those parents who chose Kirkwood or Mehlville also chose another school district which they will pay to get their kid to."
Riverview Gardens had to choose two districts that they will pay to bus students to. That means that unless Riverview Gardens selects another busing district, kids left out of the lottery will have to be transported by their parents to a different district, or stay with their unaccredited school.
But the good news is that if you’re a Normandy parent that chose Francis Howell as your first choice, you automatically got in.
It’s important to note that parents will be offered a district, not a school. The receiving district will place children based on available spots.
“Their school districts will start calling them now," Sherrie Wehner with CSD said. "If we have to call parents to tell them that they didn’t get into one of their top three choices, those calls will come from CSD staff.”
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel