July 01, 2013
Dear FHSD Community,
On June 11, 2013, the Missouri Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton case. This means that students in an unaccredited school district may elect to attend a school in an accredited district in the same or an adjoining county, including St. Charles County. The two unaccredited school districts in the greater St. Louis area are Normandy and Riverview Gardens—both of which are in St. Louis County. The unaccredited school districts must choose at least one district to which they will provide transportation for resident students wishing to attend school in an accredited district. On Friday, June 28, the Normandy School District informed me that they selected Francis Howell as the district to which they will transport students. Families may choose other districts to provide their children’s education, but if a different district is chosen, transportation will become the responsibility of the parent.
At the time of this letter, Riverview Gardens has not selected a district to which it will transport students.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FRANCIS HOWELL?
The court’s decision is three weeks old, and the Normandy School District’s decision to bus students to Francis Howell occurred just last Friday. Area school districts, including Francis Howell, are determining the implications of the decisions, and are working to create policy, processes, and guidelines that comply with the requirements of the law. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has provided school districts with some general points of guidance; however, at this time, there are still many unanswered questions. An FAQ is currently being developed and will be posted to our website. The FAQ will be updated as new information becomes available.
Parents/Students in the unaccredited school districts will make application through their home/current school district starting July 08. On August 02, the school districts that could receive students per the statute requirements will gather at Cooperating School District and work to place students in their district of choice. On August 05, parents and families will be contacted regarding placement. School districts are required to take students to the extent that they have capacity to do so. School starts in Francis Howell on August 08.
Francis Howell has policies in place that define our class sizes. We are currently reviewing these and other related policies to determine if revisions are necessary based on the law and court ruling. Changes in class sizes due to transfer students may lead to the hiring of additional staff. We will know more in this regard when the number of transfer students is determined. Even though we are a large school district of approximately 17, 200 students, we have space in some buildings to accommodate additional students.
Per provisions of the statute, the unaccredited school district will pay tuition to Francis Howell; the tuition amount is determined by statute as well. We will be working closely with the sending school district(s) to create efficient processes to ensure that our district receives all payments to which it is entitled.
The transfer of students may create questions for our families and community members. A student transfers page will be set up on our website where documents that may help answer some of your questions will be posted. The transfer situation is new for all of us, and we are working quickly to make the necessary accommodations and adjustments in order that we can have a great 2013-2014 school year. If you have a question that is not answered on the website, please send in your question via the student transfers email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Francis Howell has worked extremely hard for over a decade at improving learning for our students, and to date, our student performance is at its highest level. As we move through the upcoming school years, we will continue to focus on our improvement work. We are very proud of our accomplishments and very proud of our school district as well. This is a great place to learn and work.
Like all parents, parents in unaccredited districts desire to have a good educational experience for their children. Francis Howell has one goal—to prepare each child for his/her future. When students arrive from Normandy or Riverview Gardens, we will gladly welcome them and begin our work with them like we do with all of our students when school starts on August 08.
This law and court ruling will pose challenges for our school district as does all significant change. I am confident that we will problem-solve these challenges like we do all of our challenges—keeping the interests of our students as the driver of our decision-making.
We will stay in touch throughout this process. Follow us at www.fhsdschools.org, on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Dr. Pam Sloan
Superintendent of Schools