ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The 400 students who transferred to the Francis Howell School District will no longer be able to attend school there.
Francis Howell Superintendent Pam Sloan says the board decided in closed session last night to no longer accept Normandy transfer students. The board is using its 2005 policy that says they don’t accept non-resident paying tuition students. Sloan says the state education board’s decision to dissolve Normandy and change it’s accreditation status means Francis Howell is not legally required to accept transfer students.
“It was a hard decision for me for our board, for everybody involved in educating these kids for a year, the decision was emotion because we built relationships with these kids,” Sloan says.
She says with the district having the ability to reformulate, it’s important for them to have all resources in place to do that.
“I believe Dr. Chris Nicastro (Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) has a plan to rebuild the district,” she says, calling her very smart.
And to those who may question the decision, Sloan says, “We strongly believe schools are the bedrock of the community and we are willing to do our part to help them to be a strong district again and that was the basis of the decision that was made to help them.”
When asked if the $4 million the district received from Normandy was a windfall, Sloan said the board used tuition calculations and felt the tuition charged was a fair representation of what it cost to educate a child in Francis Howell. Sloan says she has spoken to Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols and told him they will do whatever they can to make the transition back as smooth as possible.
“I know it’s been disruptive,” she says.
William Humphrey, President of the Normandy School Board, questions the decision, saying districts like Francis Howell “did not seem to have a problem taking transfer students when they were receiving more money than it took to educate them.”
He added, “I would say to those individuals who embraced the children when money was available, they have to reexamine why they are in education.”
Humphrey believes the decision to no longer accept transfer students from Normandy is being made because the state has capped tuition at just over $7,200.
He says that amount is reasonable, however, explaining that it’s the same amount of tuition paid for a student who was in the Voluntary Desegregation Program. What is not known is whether Normandy will reopen an elementary school it closed or rehire over a hundred staff and teachers it laid off in order to make it to the end of the year. The district spent a total of about $10 million to more than a dozen school districts who transferred out after the district lost its accreditation.
As far as the students who will come back to the district, Normandy released a statement that reads in part,
“The hundreds of Normandy students who participated in the transfer program this year at Francis Howell will once again be welcomed by teachers, staff, administrators and the community of the Normandy Schools Collaborative.
“Our focus and mission remains the same as the new Normandy Schools Collaborative – to ensure that every student is successful inside the classroom by reaching their full academic potential,” said Dr. Ty McNichols, superintendent of schools. “We look forward to the upcoming school year.”
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