- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Fewer students in two unaccredited suburban St. Louis school districts are transferring to better-performing districts for the 2014-15 school year.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1bZENK1 ) reports that a combined 2,200 students transferred for the current school year from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts. The transfers came quickly after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled last summer that students from unaccredited districts can transfer at their home district’s expense.

The deadline for parents to apply to transfer for the next school year was Monday. Normandy had 123 applications, and Riverview Gardens has had 73, though Riverview Gardens extended its deadline until Friday.

Robert Walker brought in the application Monday at Normandy offices for his daughter, who will be going into kindergarten.

“I want to make sure my daughter gets the best education possible,” Walker said. “I think any parent would want that.”

The amount of room available for new students to transfer has not been determined. Receiving districts are not planning to release the number of vacancies until June.

The amount of available space will depend partly on how many current transfer students choose to stay. The Mehlville district in St. Louis County serves 184 transfer students. So far, a little over 100 have filed “intent to return” forms, but the remaining students have not said either way.

Riverview Gardens decided to extend the deadline because winter weather has forced schools to close often in recent weeks.

“We recognize with the five inclement weather days, that could have made an impact on families’ abilities to come out and complete their paperwork,” district spokeswoman Melanie Powell-Robinson said. “We don’t want that to be an issue.”

Meanwhile, the district is trying to communicate the belief that they turn around Riverview Gardens schools if students stay.

Last summer, school officials had about seven weeks after the ruling to coordinate transfers, creating confusion and some frustration among parents. The process this time will play out over seven months.

The process continues even as potential changes are afoot. Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro will present ideas for a new approach to troubled schools to the state Board of Education on Feb. 18. State lawmakers have filed more than a dozen bills with proposed changes to the law.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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