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What The Transfer Ruling Means For Accredited MO School Districts

KCUR 89.3 file photo

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued guidelines Wednesday regarding student transfers between unaccredited and accredited school districts.

Among other things the guidelines urge accredited districts that border those without accreditation to adopt and publish policy on class size and teacher ratios by August 1.

Ron Lankford is the Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administrative Services at the Missouri Department of Education. He says last month's supreme court ruling could mean that bordering districts are educating more students than they did in the 2012-2013 school year, but setting policy will give districts a rational basis to put a cap on student spots.

“I think school districts, at least in the interim, might have a little bit of flexibility to keep from being overrun by students,” says Lankford.

He says they are unsure how many students will want to move to a surrounding district with accreditation, but that the greatest financial impact will likely be on Kansas City Public Schools and other unaccredited districts in the state because they will have to pay per-pupil tuition and transportation costs.

“Sometimes a receiving school can accept students, and depending on class sizes that are currently in existence, [they] may not truly see a significant impact in their cost,” says Lankford.

In addition to the financial burden on KCPS, Lankford says losing students gives them less resources to meet their current challenges- like reestablishing accreditation.

David Leone is the Assistant Superintendent at Center School District in Kansas City, Mo. He says that they are not yet sure what the ruling and guidelines will mean for Center.

“To be perfectly honest, we are still digesting everything,” says Leone.

Though there are some transportation requirements built into the policy and guidelines, it is still unclear where KCPS will be providing transportation. Because of Center’s location in Kansas City, Mo. it is likely to be a desirable choice for parents.

But, Leone says they it is hard for them to gauge the amount of room they will have for transfers.

“We are a very mobile community. We have a lot of kids who move in and out,” he says.

According to this years numbers, Leone says they would have some room to take in kids from other districts, but he says they cannot project how many kids will move into the district over the summer, considering the high volume of apartment complexes and rentals in the area.

A California native, Briana comes to KCUR by way of KMUW in Wichita, Kan. and KUSP in Santa Cruz, Calif.
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