Normandy transfers students to FHSD

By Daniel Bodden

After a Missouri Supreme Court Ruling, Normandy School District has chosen FHSD as the school district it will bus students to. This means FHSD must accept as many students from Normandy as it can accommodate.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer that students in unaccredited school districts may choose to transfer to accredited schools and that the unaccredited district must provide transportation to at least one accredited district for students who want to go there. As of press time, Riverview Gardens School District, another unaccredited district, has not announced which district it will provide transportation to.

As this is a new decision, the District is still working to put procedures in place to handle the situation, and Normandy students won’t know until August 5 what school they have been placed in. Parents and students who want more information can attend a town hall meeting at FHC’s gymnasium on Thursday, July 11 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. FHSD has also provided a Normandy Student Transfers FAQ.

Here’s five things to know about how this decision will impact students in both districts:

1) Implications
It’s unlikely that all Normandy students will come to FHSD. Transferring schools is optional and Normandy students may stay at their current school or attend another accredited school district in the same or adjoining county. Normandy must pay all tuition costs for each student that transfers, but is only required to provide free transportation to one district which Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols chose to be FHSD.

According Chief Academic Officer Mary Hendricks-Harris, the District was surprised that Normandy chose FHSD as the school it would transport students to but is prepared to give the new students the same quality of education it always has. Henricks-Harris said the District is working diligently to prepare for the incoming students by reviewing policies and the enrollment process.

“In the end, [all of the students] will receive a quality education like they always have,” Hendricks-Harris said.

2) Timeline
June 11: Missouri Supreme Court hands down ruling on students in unaccredited schools transferring to accredited ones.
June 28: Normandy informs FHSD that it has been chosen as the district students will be transported to.
July 1: Superintendent Pam Sloan sends a note out to district families notifying them of the decision and explaining the implications.
July 3: The FHSD Board of Education sends out a note to address the decision and invite members of the FHSD community to attend an informational meeting.
July 11: FHSD holds a town hall meeting at FHC to provide families with information and answer questions concerning the transfer of students from Normandy to FHSD.
August 1: Deadline for students in unaccredited districts to apply to transfer.
August 2: Districts who could receive the students will meet to place students in the district they chose.
August 5: Parents and families will be contacted notifying them of the placement.
August 8: First day of school for FHSD students including students transferred from Normandy
August 19: First day of school for Normandy schools

3) Locations and Transportation

View Normandy High School in a larger map

Estimated travel times:
Normandy High School to FHN: 27 minutes
Normandy High School to FHC: 33 minutes
Normandy High School to FHHS: 37 minutes

Though there are other school districts closer to Normandy, McNichols chose FHSD because of its numerous awards for quality education programs, its diverse group of students and staff and its large size that would be able to accommodate the influx of students. FHN Principal Andy Downs believes that the decision could also have been based on FHSD’s ability to foster student growth.

“I think one of the things that drew them to our school district is that our students have shown growth in regard to AP scores, growth in regard to EOC scores, and growth in regard to attendance,” Downs said. “There’s a lot of things that we are doing well that would draw people to our school district.”

4) Class sizes
Superintendent Pam Sloan said in her email to parents that the District has policies regarding class sizes, and that these were being reviewed. The main dilemma in making decisions about increasing class sizes or hiring additional staff is that the number of students transferring to FHSD will not be set until after August 1.

Parents and students have voiced many concerns in addition to the class size issue. Downs says that he doesn’t have all the specific answers right now, and it will take time for everything to be figured out.

“There’s a lot of information we don’t know and a lot of questions I don’t have the answers to,” Downs said. “That information probably won’t be available for quite a few weeks. More than anything I just reassure people that with any students that come to our school we’ll continue to do things that we know are good for kids.”

There have not been discussions of how many students FHN could accommodate as of press time; however, Downs said that FHN is capable of handling more students than are currently enrolled for the 2013-14 school year.

5) Behavior
According to STLtoday.com, Normandy High School reported 285 incidents that resulted in out-of-school suspension in 2012. STLtoday.com also labeled the school as the “most dangerous school in the area” based on the rate of ten day or longer suspensions.

Downs believes that these behavior problems will not shift to FHN and that students who transfer here will benefit from a culture of high expectation.

“I think that all the students who are enrolled in this school will continue to progress and grow,” Downs said. “I believe in what we’re doing, I think our teachers are great, and I think that we’re going to continue to see growth out of any students who come here.”

The State Board of Education voted to revoke Normandy’s accreditation in Sept. 18, 2012. According to Normandy’s website, the District is working on “developing programs, systems and processes for improving student performance and regaining accreditation.” Should Normandy become accredited during the school year, it is expected that the transferred students will finish the year at the schools they transferred to.

For more information, you can follow these links:

goo.gl/ZjR20 KMOV – Normandy Chooses FHSD – Story + Video
http://goo.gl/34ZkT KMOV – “Parents want answers from Normandy School District, suspect money grab” – Story + Video
goo.gl/wxnY1 KSDK – Normandy Chooses FHSD – Story + Video
goo.gl/oV2lk STLtoday.com story from Sept. 2012 when Normandy lost its accreditation