Missouri Lawmakers Work on Student Transfer Law, KC School Chief Warns of Financial Distress
January 23, 2014

. (AP) – Legislation revising Missouri’s school transfer law for unaccredited school districts received a public airing Wednesday as the Senate Education Committee during a public hearing started work on what could prove to be the marquee education issue confronting state lawmakers.

The 1993 transfer law requires districts without state accreditation to pay tuition and provide transportation for students who want to attend an accredited school within the same county or a bordering one. It has prompted concerns about schools’ ability to control incoming students and is creating financial problems for unaccredited districts.

About 2,000 students have left the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts in St. Louis County. More could follow suit in Kansas City after the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the transfer law in a case focused on that area and the State Board of Education denied an accreditation upgrade.

Kansas City Superintendent R. Stephen Green told the Senate Education Committee the transfer law could thrust his school system into financial distress.

The Senate Education Committee focused Wednesday on measures each filed by several St. Louis-area lawmakers.

“This is the year for us to come together and recognize that we need to do things that we can get done,” said Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt, of St. Louis County.

The St. Louis-area lawmakers said the legislation is a starting point. Under their proposal, districts receiving transfer students would set policies for class sizes and student-teacher ratios. The State Board of Education would assess individual school buildings within unaccredited districts, and the first option for students in unaccredited districts would be going to an accredited school within their home district.

In addition, accredited school systems could operate charter schools in unaccredited districts, and unaccredited school districts could approve longer school days and academic years.

The Senate Education Committee plans to consider other proposals dealing with the transfer law, among them a bill filed by the committee’s chairman, Sen. David Pearce. His bill would include the creation of a “statewide achievement district” to oversee struggling schools.

The most active questioner during Wednesday’s hearing was Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who also has filed an education bill that addresses student transfers. Chappelle-Nadal, of University City, raised questions about several issues, including finances and charter schools.

Missouri’s three school districts currently unaccredited are Normandy, Riverview Gardens and Kansas City public schools. Another 11 districts have provisional accreditation

Report: St. Louis’ Unaccredited District Could Go Broke, Paying for Student Transfers
December 24, 2011

Post-Disptach via johncombest.com:
The potential transfer of thousands of students from the failing city school district to better ones in the county would drain St. Louis Public Schools financially, according to one analysis released this week.
Paying for tuition for more than 15,069 students to attend county schools would cost the city district about $175 million a year, said Don Senti, executive director of Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis. The cost analysis is based on the number of transfers indicated in a telephone survey conducted this fall by a University of Missouri-St. Louis political science professor. That survey estimated close to a fourth of the school-age children in St. Louis would leave for county schools if a Missouri Supreme Court decision currently under debate stands.
And the actual annual cost to the city school system could be much more, adding $134 million for transportation and special education services, Senti said. The result, which would exceed last year’s operating budget of about $275 million, would bankrupt the district, leaving students with few resources and the district with little chance to regain accreditation, he said.
“I think the Legislature needs to know the worst case scenario,” Senti said. “I think that’s what this is.”
Last year’s ruling in the Turner vs. School District of Clayton case reaffirmed the rights of students in unaccredited districts to transfer to better schools. But as the court battle continues, suburban school superintendents have tried to get a better idea of its impact, if the decision stands.
They have argued that they don’t have enough classroom space to comply with the statute. But the law does not allow them to turn children away for lack of space. And officials in the area’s unaccredited districts — St. Louis and Riverview Gardens — say they cannot afford tuition for the thousands of students who might want to go elsewhere.
Senti’s analysis focused on St. Louis and used an estimated average tuition rate of $11,613 for St. Louis County districts. Actual tuition payments would vary by district.
Chris Tennill, spokesman for the Clayton School District, said the tuition estimate is probably conservative, so the actual financial burden on St. Louis schools could be much more.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/study-says-tuition-for-transfers-could-bankrupt-st-louis-schools/article_04a9ae37-b9ac-5a6c-beb4-229fbd17a6ba.html#ixzz1hSdhdwAq