(KTVI) -Bus loads of Riverview Gardens students headed south from the north St. Louis County school district to the Mehlville district in south County early Thursday morning for the first day of class. Just over 200 students were assigned to open seats in fifteen of Mehlville's sixteen schools.
A Missouri state law upheld by the state Supreme Court in mid-June gives students in unaccredited districts the right to transfer to accredited schools in the same or an adjoining county. Parents of some 2600 children who live in the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts have decided to enroll their children in other accredited districts.
Area school leaders had only two months to work out the giant transfer. Their decisions, which included a lottery that was not authorized by the law, may be challenged in court.
Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost said Thursday he is comfortable with the decisions his district made to limit enrollment to preferred class sizes recommended by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
"We brought ourselves to the table in good spirit trying to help along with the CSD (Cooperating School Districts ) process and all other county superintendents and we're accepting kids and we're welcoming them this morning and we're excited about it," said Knost after he greeted some 57 students who arrived at Oakville High School before 7:30am.
One of the students, Kesahyra McKinnies, said her mother wanted her to leave the Riverview Gardens District and attend school in Mehlville. "She thought this would be a great school than Riverview and I was like 'I'll try it to see how it goes.' So I'm here!" she said with a smile.
Some students spent more than an hour on the bus. One Riverview Gardens parent decided to follow the bus her daughter rode.
Cheryll Pinder said, " My daughter and I got there about six in the morning. Pulled up straight at 6:10 just as they promised and I followed them to the second location St. Cyr, followed them out here it was no problem." Pinder added, " I wanted to see how the students were going to be received; it was great."
Oakville student leaders had prepared for a typical first day pep rally by decorating the gym and commons. "I think everyone is going to get along great," predicted senior class president Kelly Ries. She and others call Oakville "the house" and describe the school as a family.
During the pep assembly all new students including incoming freshman from Mehlville middle schools were invited to stand up together. Principal Jan Kellerman told them Oakville faculty and students will look out for each other.
Senior Daniel Carter who is part of the student leadership team was at the front door when the transfer students arrived. "I think we're approaching it with a real positive mental attitude. These students have been put in a really bad spot ..most people think the law..it's not a good solution to a really complicated problem," Carter said. He went on to say the newcomers would be welcomed as if they had been Mehlville students since kindergarten.
(KTVI)-- The first day at the Mehlville School District got underway today with transfer students from Riverview Gardens.
The Mehlville superintendent, Eric Knost, told us at this point his district has received a little more than 200 students from Riverview Gardens.
Oakville Senior High School received 57 of those students this morning on two buses.
That`s more students than at any of Mehlville`s 16 other schools.
The buses arrived on time right about 7:00am- classes started at Oakville High around 7:20am.
Some of the Riverview kids got on the school bus as early as around 5:30am this morning.
It was a very long bus ride--some students were on the bus for well over an hour.
There were a lot of concerns from Riverview families about the busing that was set up by the Riverview Gardens School District because the pick-up times changed a lot leading up to this morning.
Knost tells us his schools can handle the number of Riverview Gardens` transfer students without class sizes becoming too large.
Riverview Gardens is paying $245 per day per bus for the transfers.