School Transfers, Follow The Money
Following the advice of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts each chose one school district to which they will provide transportation for students transferring from the two failing districts. Normandy plans to send buses to the Francis Howell School District in Saint Charles County and Riverview Gardens will bus students to Mehlville, on the opposite side of Saint Louis County. Suffice it to say, the announcements have gone over like a lead balloon, especially in Riverview Gardens.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one Riverview Gardens parent claimed, “What they’re trying to do is keep us in this district rather than let us go where we want to put our kids. I think they are trying to pull a fast one.” That parent stated what I’m sure many parents are thinking. I try not to assign motives to the actions of others but instead try to look at the facts. Doing that, it seems quite clear why these districts were chosen: they are cheaper. This means Riverview Gardens and Normandy will pay less in tuition.
In the table below, I present the total enrollment and current operating expenditures for all of the school districts in Saint Louis County, as well as Francis Howell and the St. Charles School District. The two failing districts are highlighted the same color as the district to which they chose to provide transportation. The data are from 2012 and were obtained from the DESE website.
It is no secret that money was among the primary considerations; Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said as much. The real question is, should the decision even have been made in this fashion? That is, should the school determine where they are going to provide transportation, or should they provide transportation to the school that most of their students would like to attend?