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#MissouriMath: The School Transfer Law

Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend.

Learn More: Understanding Missouri’s School Transfer Law

School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an expensive one for unaccredited districts and profitable for receiving districts.

Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens in 2013. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

Representative Clem Smith (D – Velda Village Hills) told STLToday.com that, “getting a transfer kid is like hitting the lottery. Order a few more lunches, but whatever money (transfers) brings in, you absorb that into your budget.” (Source)

The total number of transfer students in Normandy and Riverview Gardens fell to around 1,000 in 2014, but the costs to those districts still is still taking its toll. Normandy’s superintendent Charles Pearson, told STLToday.com that the district is operating “on a survival budget” when it should be focused on improving instruction. (Source)

Missouri Parent agrees with Pearson that education money should be invested in education, not in transportation and tuition. When the cost of tuition and transportation for an individual student to attend a different school exceeds the state’s average per-pupil expenditure (PPE), it’s just not sustainable.

Instead of spending taxpayer dollars paying for tuition and transportation, Missouri Parent believes that the state should invest that money directly in rebuilding Missouri’s unaccredited schools. The Missouri School Transfer law is an example of #MissouriMath that just doesn’t add up.

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