Riverview Gardens School District

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Take a look at a statewide map showing how districts performance has changed between the past two school years, as well as five takeaways from the report cards.

While St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens have made solid gains in their push toward accreditation, Normandy finds itself in a deeper hole, earning just 7.1 percent of the possible points in Missouri’s latest list of school report cards released Friday.

Don't use this one Brittany Packnett
Teach for America

Let’s say you’ve been a teacher in the Normandy school district for a while and are wondering what’s going to happen to your job when the new state-run Normandy Schools Collaborative takes over on July 1.

If you’re still interested in teaching in the district, here is what Superintendent Ty McNichols had to say in a letter sent out to staff member last week:

UMSL website

Lynn Beckwith remembers very well what happened on May 20, 2010, and how it set into motion a scramble to get the Riverview Gardens schools ready for the coming year.

That was the day Beckwith was named to head the three-member special administrative board that is running the unaccredited north St. Louis County school district.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Five identical bills that would each revamp Missouri's student transfer law were examined Wednesday by a State Senate committee.

comedy_nose / Flickr

Twelve St. Louis area schools with low academic performance will receive a total of more than $6.2 million in federal money to kick start classroom improvement.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which is distributing more than $43 million nationally to seven states. 

DESE website

After four hearings in Normandy and Riverview Gardens, plus suggestions and plans and proposals from education groups and lawmakers from throughout Missouri, it’s time for state education officials to try to come up with a plan to help struggling school districts.

And Chris Nicastro, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, wants to make sure that whatever plan her department comes up with, that is the focus: helping underachieving students and schools succeed.

Cast a Line / Flickr

After traveling the state to get feedback from educators and community members, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education has released its final report.

Among the recommendations is a tuition limit for what an unaccredited district pays when a student transfers to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county.

(Go here for an FAQ on student transfers)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - As superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District since July 1, Scott Spurgeon has an array of facts and figures, plans and practices that he says can help the district regain accreditation.

But, he told a hearing called by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday night, he also has one solid indicator that things are looking up.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Preparing for a legislative session expected to make changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is drafting a bill designed to rebuild unaccredited districts, preserve gains made by those on the bubble and sustain those that are solidly in the accredited category.

(Courtesy of D.J. Wilson)

Cost is factor no matter what you are buying – a six-pack of beer, a pair of jeans, a house, or for a state government, a public education for school-age children.

 Much has been said about the cost of the region’s current inter-district student transfer program. Much of what has been said about that cost has been incomplete, or ill informed.  

The one price tag that’s been floated is $35 million. Let’s break that down. 

bsabarnowl / Flickr

Lawmakers from both the Missouri state Senate and House will meet on Tuesday to collect ideas on how to deal with the school transfer process.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The transfer of students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to accredited school districts has forced a lot of dislocation and financial stress, but panelists at an education forum said Tuesday it has also prompted people to look at students in a new way.

And, insisted Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioners for elementary and secondary education, despite what some people say, the process has not resulted in a mess.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Yesterday, we profiled the new superintendent at the Normandy schools.

Now, we introduce you to the man who finds himself in the same position at another struggling school district- Riverview Gardens. 

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

After receiving several questions and concerns over students who missed the Aug. 1 transfer deadline, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education has released revised guidelines for parents.

Per DESE’s guidelines, if a student missed the Aug. 1 deadline, parents have been instructed to complete the transfer packet in their home district and notify the district they want to transfer to.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When an outside consulting firm takes a hard look at ways to improve the Kansas City schools, its report may not have the answers to achieving the same goal in St. Louis, but it could certainly be asking the right questions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Now that hundreds of students have started their long bus rides from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to accredited districts, can they expect to have greater academic success in their new schools?

Nothing is certain, of course, but educational research – and the long experience the St. Louis area has with the voluntary desegregation transfer plan – suggest that where students attend class can have a definite positive effect on how much they learn.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for years to get authority to step in more quickly to help unaccredited school districts.

Now that a newly signed law gives it that power, the state board of education wants to make sure that it uses it in the right way.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

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.     

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Josh Schindler is an attorney who has been advocating for parents who have fought to pull their children out of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts. 

But the plight of homeless students has added another layer to the school transfer debate, he said.

Cast a Line / Flickr

Welcome to our guide to the Missouri school transfers situation. This document will be updated as the news changes and we gather more information.

Have more questions? Tweet us at @stlpublicradio or leave it in the comments below.

Last updated 1/07/14

What is this law?

Will the law be changed?

Which districts are involved in the St. Louis region?

bsabarnowl / Flickr

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.

bsabarnowl / Flickr

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Even though classes start Monday for the Riverview Gardens School District, as of Friday morning Micah Pope hadn’t gotten in to any of the districts where she wanted to transfer. So her mother planned to keep the eighth-grader home rather than have her go back to a school she thinks is inadequate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For some parents in the Riverview Gardens District, the transfer law is turning out to be an illusion, promising access to better education for their children but offering no space or free transportation to accredited schools on their radar. Yet, for others like parents Orney and Corie Walker, the law is a godsend.

Cast a Line / Flickr

The body charged with placing the thousands of students looking for a better education has released preliminary results of last week's lottery.

The lottery took place after a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that upheld a law that says students from unaccredited districts can transfer to accredited districts, paid for by the failing school.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Just weeks away from its implementation, the Kirkwood School District held an informational meeting Tuesday night to answer questions from parents and residents about the school transfer process.

The basic message from speakers was this: The system is flawed, the law is broken, there wasn’t nearly enough planning, the legislature is dysfunctional, and what happens if we get sued?  But we need to do everything in our power to make sure the incoming students get the best possible education we can provide.

Numbers Released Surrounding School Transfers

Aug 6, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Thousands of students are fleeing two failing North St. Louis County school districts, following a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that unaccredited schools will have to pay for students hoping for an education at an accredited school.

The past month has been confusing and arduous for both parents and the organizational body now charged with placing those students, Cooperating School Districts (CSD).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Three parents in Riverview Gardens say they will file suit against the Mehlville School District Thursday afternoon unless Mehlville drops its limits on how many transfer students it will accept.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

The organization overseeing the school transfer process for students in unaccredited districts is still working on placing students Monday. Registration for the lottery ended last week, but Cooperating School Districts is still trying to figure out what to do with those that missed the deadline.

About 2,600 students applied for transfer by last week's deadline, making up roughly a quarter of the student population in the two unaccredited districts.

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