- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (AP) - Another suburban St. Louis school district has decided to stop accepting transfer students from the neighboring Normandy system after a state policy change that was designed to help right the unaccredited district.

Thursday’s vote in University City follows a similar recent decision by the Francis Howell district in St. Charles County. The University City school board decision affects 82 former Normandy students who transferred there in the 2013-2014 academic year.

The University City board also voted not to lower its tuition rate by several thousand dollars apiece for a handful of transfer students from Riverview Gardens, the other unaccredited district in St. Louis County. Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro had asked districts to reduce tuition to prevent Riverview Gardens from becoming insolvent, a fate the Normandy district narrowly avoided as it was forced to pay other districts to teach and transport nearly 1,000 of its former students under a contentious state law.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/1o9ozGk ) reported Friday that state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a University City Democrat who also serves on the local school board, voted against allowing Normandy students to return to University City for the 2014-2015 school year because she feared those students’ test scores could negatively affect the district.

“I want to make sure that that this district stays accredited,” Chappelle-Nadal said.

Chappelle-Nadal was a co-sponsor of a transfer bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon this week that would have allowed the use of public money to pay for certain students to attend nonreligious private schools. The governor called the bill a “dangerous voucher scheme” that would only worsen the problems at the two struggling districts as well as others that risk losing accreditation.

The school transfer legislation would have eliminated the requirement that unaccredited districts pay for students’ transportation to new schools. It called for accreditation of individual schools rather than entire districts.

Instead, the State Board of Education has decided to dissolve the Normandy district at the end of this month and replace it with the renamed Normandy Schools Collaborative under the oversight of a state-appointed board. The new district would have no accreditation status, a move that has had the consequence of allowing University City and Francis Howell to stop accepting students.

Nixon criticized last week’s vote by the Francis Howell school board, saying the district has “turn(ed) its back” on the 350 Normandy students who endured daily bus rides of nearly 30 miles each way to attend the better schools in an adjacent county.

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

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