District extends programs for VICC, Riverview students

Andy Kimball
Editor-in-Chief

The buses arrive outside the high school in the afternoon to take students home. Riverview Gardens offers busing to the Mehlville and Kirkwood School Districts, and Normandy offers busing to Francis Howell School Disctrict. Transfer students who go to Webster must provide their own transportation.

Photo by Jack Killeen

Webster’s school board voted Nov. 14, to allow students from the Riverview Gardens School District to remain at Webster for the next two to three years. The district will keep transfer students regardless of Riverview’s accreditation status.

Riverview Gardens regained its state accreditation status on Dec. 2, after being stripped of its accreditation in 2007. Riverview will be provisionally accredited at the start of second semester of this school year. There is no law in place to describe how a school district handles transfer students once their area schools regain accreditation mid-year.

With the extension, the district will now have discretion over which students stay in the district. The school board currently has agreed to let transfer students stay in the district until a “natural break” like a break between elementary and middle school or middle school and high school.

School board president Steve Loher said, “(Accreditation for Riverview Gardens) is a testament to their hard work. Very hard to do in a challenged area. It’s a feather in their cap.”

Loher said part of the reason the school allowed students was the low cost of keeping the students.

“We only have seven or eight students spread across many grade levels, so the cost of educating students does not go up by adding only seven or eight students,” Loher said.
Loher added, “Since we have such a small number of students in the program we don’t need to hire any new staff to accommodate them.”

When Riverview was unaccredited, it had to pay a school district’s cost of attendance if a student transferred to a county district. For Webster, Riverview had to pay the district about $12,333 per student when it was unaccredited.

According to superintendent John Simpson, a deal was worked out where for the rest of this year when Riverview is accredited, Webster will receive payments based off of a $7,000 annual rate per student. Simpson also said Webster has not decided how much it will charge Riverview next year or in the coming years, but said, “(The school board and I) will finalize that in the coming months.”

As well as allowing students remain from Riverview Gardens, Webster is also a member of the five-year extension of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) program.
The program lets students from the Saint Louis City schools transfer to Saint Louis County schools like Webster Groves or Kirkwood.

Also, students from county schools would be able to transfer to city magnet schools.
Magnet schools, like Metro High School or the Central and Visual Performing Arts Academy are public schools in Saint Louis designed to offer special programs that county schools like Webster or Kirkwood do not offer.

This is the program’s final extension of the program and will end at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

This means no new students will be allowed to join the program after the 2023-2024 school year, but students already in the program by 2023-2024 will be able to stay and complete the program until they graduate.

About future plans, Simpson said, “The VICC board is looking into studies about any other types of programs that can be created that are legal to do and that could continue this type of relationship. They will be studying if there is a way to maintain a mutual relationship between the city of Saint Louis to support all kids.”

Simpson said, “There is interest from the board and people to explore what other possibilities would be.”

Loher added, “We want to be good citizens not only to Webster but to our whole region. We believe that by (being a part of these programs) we are being good citizens to our whole region.”

 


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