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Francis Howell School Board approves position to handle transfers

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - The conversation continued at Francis Howell’s school board meeting Thursday night on how the district will handle the influx of students from the unaccredited Normandy School District.

Already, roughly 200 Normandy students have applied to transfer to the St. Charles County district, and the application deadline is still two weeks away.

The process of transferring unaccredited public school students is completely uncharted, especially since the Supreme Court ruling didn’t come with specific instructions.  To deal with the myriad questions and issues, the Francis Howell Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to create a part-time staff member position to handle the transfer process.

The salary will be funded with tuition money from the Normandy students.  Also discussed Thursday was the tuition amount, and how it will be collected from Normandy.

In a nutshell, the unaccredited school district will be charged 1/10th of the roughly $11,000 annual tuition, per month, per student. If Normandy doesn't pay, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would redirect Normandy's state aid to Francis Howell for payment.

However, board members were concerned about what happens if neither Normandy nor DESE pays up. Board member Mark Lafata says it’s unfair for Francis Howell taxpayers to foot the bill, and thinks the district policy needs to include some consequences.

St. Charles County State Rep. Mark Parkinson is confident that Francis Howell can handle the added load, but he feels his district shouldn’t have been put in this position in the first place.  He has a hunch Normandy chose Francis Howell because it’s so far away, hoping more students—and money—would stay in Normandy.

Parkinson explains, “The biggest victims and the biggest pawns in the whole situation are the kids in the Normandy School District. Because I’ll be quite honest with you, those school board members look at those kids and see dollar signs on their foreheads. And they don’t want to lose that money and power.”

This state representative was also defending himself tonight, after failing to pass House Bill 514. The bill would have given Francis Howell board members the choice to accept the transfers or not.  Parkinson insists this decision would have put board members between a rock and a hard place: either accept the transfers and upset their constituents, or reject them and be labeled racists.

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