Lewis Diuguid

December 11, 2013

Area school districts face bleak new year without state help

Court action on the student transfer law could result in a lot of problems for area school districts unless the state steps in with help.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruling allowing student transfers for non-accredited districts will cause a number of problems for the Kansas City and surrounding school districts.

Two lifelines could prevent turmoil in the 2014-2015 school year. One is the state board could ease its hard line and grant Kansas City Public Schools provisional accreditation, which it earned.

The other is the Missouri General Assembly could change the school transfer law so that it would not cause an exodus of students from a poor performing schools and overcrowd neighboring school districts. That is occurring in the St. Louis area.

Transfers have financially devastated the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts, which have lost about 2,500 students from their combined enrollment of 10,600, and they have to pay the tuition and transportation costs of the kids escaping to other districts.

Normandy determined in October that it will have to lay off about 100 staffers beginning in January and close an elementary school, The Kansas City Star reports.

Unless state action provides some relief, the Kansas City district may have to cancel plans to reopen middle schools, shelve plans to expand preschools, and consider closing more schools and laying off teachers. Surrounding districts would have to absorb more students, which would crowd classrooms.

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