Normandy students await district transfer votes

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — More St. Louis-area public school districts that previously welcomed transfer students from a nearby struggling district will soon consider whether to accept them after the state's dissolution of the unaccredited Normandy district.

The Francis Howell district in St. Charles County decided last week to stop accepting Normandy transfers after taking more than 400 Normandy students last year. More districts among the 20 that have accepted Normandy children could soon follow. Normandy will be dissolved at the end of this month after state officials failed to turn around a school system plagued by years of low graduation rates and standardized test scores, below-grade reading levels and other academic shortcomings.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( ) reports that the Pattonville school board could revisit its transfer policy Tuesday, followed by board meetings Thursday in Mehlville and University City and in Kirkwood next month.

Missouri law requires unaccredited school systems to pay tuition and transportation costs for student transfers. But the state is replacing the unaccredited Normandy district with a new district named the Normandy Schools Collaborative that will be under its oversight, with an appointed board and a longer school year. Citing a board policy adopted in 2005, Francis Howell officials said that Normandy's status change means it no longer has to accept transfers.

Francis Howell — which collected $3.4 million in the 2013-14 academic year from other districts for their transfer students but only spent $2.3 million on those new transfers — expected 350 Normandy students in the school year that begins in August.

Annual tuition for each transfer student attending Francis Howell was $11,034. But the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wants receiving districts to lower their per-student annual tuition to about $7,200. The lower rates, along with the Normandy system's new status, could prompt more schools to restrict transfers. The state education department has asked districts to decide by the end of this month.

The policy changes could also affect hundreds of students from the unaccredited Riverview Gardens school district, which also faces an uncertain financial future after having to pay about $1.5 million in monthly transfer costs last year while struggling to serve its remaining students with fewer employees and resources.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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