ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Just hours remain for parents in the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts to register their kids for transfer to a higher performing district.
A lottery on Friday will determine whether they get their first choices or not.
In the case of Normandy parents applying to put their kids on a bus to Francis Howell in St. Charles County, there’s at least some certainty. Officials say Howell will probably have enough space for all the Normandy students requesting it, which was 425 as of the Wednesday morning tally.
It’s a different story in Riverview Gardens.
Sherrie Wehner at Cooperating School Districts, the organization which is accepting all of the requests and administering Friday’s lottery, says there are more than 600 Riverview students vying for 200 likely spots in Mehlville and 150 in Kirkwood.
Listen to Sherrie Wehner’s full interview
“If those numbers don’t change too much, we’re still going to have a surplus of requests, exceeding the capacity,” she explained to KMOX News late Thursday.
The lottery, or “placement meeting,” begins “promptly” at 8:30 a.m. Friday, behind closed doors.
Each student applicant will be assigned a random number between one and one billion. The lowest numbers get their first choice. Students with siblings are given preference, regardless of number. When spaces in the first preference are full, a parent will get a flurry of phone calls Friday, asking about second, third, or even fourth choices.
“It’s going to be a busy day,” Wehner said.
She added that, while the daunting process could theoretically stretch into Saturday, the goal is to finish by close of business Friday, in part so parents know which school supplies to purchase during the ‘tax free’ shopping holiday.
Students leaving Normandy and Riverview Gardens are allowed, under a decades-old state law affirmed recently by the Missouri Supreme Court, to choose any district they wish in St. Louis County or an adjoining county. But the districts they’re leaving are allowed to pick and choose which ones they’ll run buses to. Normandy picked Francis Howell and Riverview Gardens picked Mehlville and Kirkwood.
Despite requests already exceeding space for Mehlville and Kirkwood, it isn’t clear whether Riverview Gardens will have to pick a third district for bus routes.
In all, as of Wednesday morning’s update, 2,256 students applied to leave the two districts combined. Normandy will lose 1,029 students and Riverview Gardens will be 1,227 students smaller. Those figures do not include Wednesday’s applications or those filed in the final hours on Thursday.
ADDING UP THE DOLLARS
$30 million is the estimated cost of both tuition and transportation that Normandy and Riverview Gardens will have to pay — which does not include the final two days of registration.
Normandy’s total for tuition is $12,348,000 and transportation is $1,275,000. Riverview Gardens can expect to shell out $14,724,000 for tuition and $1,845,000 for transportation to Mehlville. The decision to add buses to Kirkwood was made too late to be included in the Wednesday morning Cooperating School District tally.
Francis Howell school board members, at a meeting earlier this month, told parents that they believed they would be paid the full monthly tuition for a transferring student, even if that student only attends class once in that month. However, guidance from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released late Thursday notes that “tuition billings should be calculated based upon hours of actual attendance at the receiving district.”
The results of a closed-door board meeting in Francis Howell were not available Thursday night.
On the final day for transfer requests, Normandy district offices will be open and accepting applications between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and Riverview Gardens from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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