On Monday, the Ferguson Florissant School District will kick off its academic year and become home to the second most transfer students in the St. Louis region.
Sitting between the two unaccredited districts in St. Louis County, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, more than 400 transfer students have been placed in the accredited Ferguson Florissant School District, according to the latest numbers released by the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, which is coordinating school transfer process.
Ferguson Florissant Superintendent Art McCoy says because they weren’t selected as a transportation option by Normandy and Riverview Gardens administrators, they’ve reached out to the community for help getting those kids to school.
“We’ve been working with our local churches to have shuttle routes to take students home for after school hours, or to actually have drop offs in the morning,” McCoy says.
McCoy says they may put some of the tuition money received from the unaccredited districts toward purchasing bus service to pick up transfer students.
McCoy says enrollment is likely to fluctuate in the coming weeks, but they could have room to accept up to 500 additional students from the unaccredited districts.
‘Disjointed’ Continuation Of School Years
State lawmakers have discussed changing the law that allows students in unaccredited districts to transfer to accredited districts when they return to session next year.
McCoy says shifting back and forth between different schools can disrupt a student’s education.
“Any kind of disjointed parts of a school year, and continuation of years, has an effect that’s often not a positive one,” McCoy Says. “There are holes, there are gaps in learning, there are different curriculums, different text books, different teaching styles books, different circumstances and length of time to go to school. So, there are many concerns.”
McCoy says the potential academic impact on students is further reason to look for long-term, regional solutions to education issues.
Under a 1993 law recently upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court, students in unaccredited districts may transfer to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county. The unaccredited district must cover tuition, but under guidelines issued by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the unaccredited district must only provide transportation to one accredited district. Normandy selected Francis Howell, which had enough room to accept all transfer students. Riverview Gardens originally selected Mehlville as its transportation options, but Mehlville ran out of room. As a result, Riverview Gardens added Kirkwood as an additional transportation option. Kirkwood also did not have enough room for all of the transfer requests, and hundreds of families with children who would like to transfer out of Riverview Gardens do not currently have a transportation option.
Mapping School Transfers
Below is a map showing the latest placements for transfer students. Roll over each dot to see the number of transfer students placed per district. Leave “All” selected to see the number of transfer students for every district in the St. Louis region or select to see the transportation options for either or both Riverview Gardens and Normandy.
Credit: Tim Lloyd, St. Louis Public Radio
Source: The Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, latest data released on Aug. 6, 2013