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Student Transfers Will Likely Bankrupt Missouri District

The Normandy school system in Missouri is expected to go bankrupt as hundreds of students choose to transfer out of the district, the Associated Press reports.

The 4,500-student district, which is in St. Louis County, is unaccredited. Students who attended unaccredited districts in the state are newly able to transfer to accredited districts, thanks to a state supreme court ruling in June. The unaccredited districts are responsible for paying tuition and transportation for the transfer students. More than 2,500 students applied to transfer out of Normandy and the nearby Riverview Gardens district (also unaccredited) as of late last week. Students from both school systems have applied to transfer to more than 25 districts in the St. Louis area.

Depending on how the transfers play out, Riverview Gardens is expected to have similar financial difficulties next year, but it had $28.6 million in reserves, while Normandy had just $8.6 million. The status of transfers from the Kansas City district is tied up in a legal challenge, and it seems unlikely that any student will be able to transfer out of that school system until 2014-15.

Kansas City has recently made progress toward regaining its accreditation.

Normandy district leaders have expressed concern that the outflow of money and potential bankruptcy will put the district in an even harder position as it looks to improve and regain its accreditation. To stem the bankruptcy, Missouri's education commissioner Chris Nicastro said she will request assistance for Normandy from the state's legislature, but any additional funds aren't likely to come through until spring, the AP reports.

The districts that would receive the transfer students have concerns about overcrowding and shifts in their student population. The New York Times featured a piece last week about how the flow of students from the predominantly African-American Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts has raised racially-tinged concerns.

The state supreme court ruling in June initially involved transfers out of the St. Louis district, which was unaccredited for five years. But the city district regained provisional accreditation last fall .

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