City students call for free tuition

Austen Klein

Staff Writer

In a fight that could set the future for St. Louis area schools and students, the Turner family has appealed for its children to attend Clayton School District free of tuition since the dis-accreditation of the St. Louis Public School District.

The Missouri Supreme Court’s original ruling overturned a lower court’s summary judgment in Clayton’s favor and remanded the case back to the lower court. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education then filed an amicus brief to address key issues of the ruling.

On July 16, the Supreme Court called for “receiving school districts to accept all students who wish to transfer, while dis-accredited schools must pay tuition payments for students who transfer to accredited school districts in adjacent counties.”

Taxpayers in both St. Louis Public Schools and the School District of Clayton filed suit to intervene stating “the transfer is both unenforceable and unconstitutional under the Hancock Amendment to the state’s constitution.”

The case has been postponed until March.

County school districts assert that the absorption of thousands of students will lead to financial ruin of the districts and overcrowding of the schools.

According to a study on behalf of the Clayton School District, around 15,700 students in the city, from kindergarten through 12th grade, would transfer to St. Louis county schools if given the opportunity.

“The St. Louis Public School District has a budget of $200 million. Thousands of students enrolling in county schools would cost the city millions and leave city schools with an uncertain future,” said Webster Groves School District superintendent Sarah Riss.

As a comparison to the Webster Groves School District, city school districts have a high mobility rate, i.e. students who receive their education in the city move more frequently to other schools.

“There are some schools in the city that perform well and have room for additional students. Most of our schools are at capacity. When students transfer, their district is supposed to pay for their tuition,” said Riss.

Some legislators believe students relocating out of the city should fill successful schools in the city first.

Riss added, “Eventually, the state may start paying for the survivability of St. Louis school districts and will impact the amount of state money Webster and other districts receive –during a time when the state is also making cuts.”

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