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Francis Howell Addresses Potential Normandy Student Transfers

Many questions were raised about how the district will handle the influx of students. Few will be answered until just before the first day of school, which for students in the Francis Howell district is Aug. 8.

The Francis Howell School District listened Thursday night to concerns about transfer students from Normandy. Photo Credit: Jared Grafman
The Francis Howell School District listened Thursday night to concerns about transfer students from Normandy. Photo Credit: Jared Grafman

Test scores. Overcrowded classrooms. The district's value — in measurable dollars and residents' way of living — and security. These are just a few of the issues raised Thursday night in the packed standing-room-only gym of Francis Howell Central High School. 

The Francis Howell School District met with parents, students and residents in attendance at a public town hall forum to "provide information and address questions regarding the recent student transfer decision upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court," according to the event description listed online.

But, simply put, the issue is preparation. 

The biggest concern about the situation facing the Francis Howell district, and the St. Charles community, is being prepared for the students that will transfer into Howell schools on the first day of school, Aug. 8, less than one month away.

Many questions were raised about how the district will handle the influx of students.

"We need answers," a resident said. "And we're not getting them from you."

"I would love to give you answers," Francis Howell School District Superintendent Pam Sloan responded. "I do not have them. We do not know, sitting here today, how many students we will have."

"How many spots do we have?"

"We have approximately 1,000 spots available today," Sloan replied. The district does not know how many enrollment spots will be filled by Francis Howell students, and how many of those will be filled by students transferring from unaccredited schools.

The issue facing the Francis Howell School District arose after Normandy School District, which is currently unaccredited, announced it will provide busing for students within its district that choose to enroll at a Francis Howell school. 

A recent state supreme court ruling, in Breitenfeld v. Clayton, determined Mo. law mandates that accredited school districts throughout St. Louis admit any student residing in an unaccredited school district. 

The ruling applies to two unaccredited districts in St. Louis — Riverview Gardens and Normandy — and has been a hot topic around schools throughout the area. That law might change soon with Senate Bill 125, delivered to Governor Jay Nixon on May 22 but yet to been signed into law, which might change the laws regarding school accreditation. 

But it is only a possibility for now, with the Missouri legislature out of session, and St. Charles District 105 Representative Mark Parkinson said that Nixon is the only person with the authority to call them into a special session. Residents wanting to contact elected government officials can look up their own elected representatives by going to the Missouri General Assembly's website and entering their address on the Legislator Lookup page.

Until the law changes, school districts all across Missouri will need to abide by the Missouri Supreme Court's ruling. 

Other districts faced with similar situations, like Rockwood, have taken similar steps to prepare for the additional students

Both Riverview Gardens and Normandy began accepting applications for student transfers at the beginning of July. Parents have until the close of business on Aug. 1, 2013 to apply for a transfer. 

By Aug. 2, Sloan said, Francis Howell will know how many students will transfer into the district and which schools those children will attend.

Regardless of the concerns raised by their parents, children already enrolled in the school district will welcome the new students.

Eric Lee, senior class president at Francis Howell High, and Gavin Galanes, captain of the school's cross country team, offered a voice for Howell students.

"We would just like to say that we haven't had a lot of students here today," Lee said. "And we'd like to, as representatives of the student body at Francis Howell, say that we are happy to have these new students at our school. We think it will be a good opportunity. We think that, I don't think we can assume Normandy kids are going to be problems."

"Everyone I've talked to, no one's opposed to it," Galanes continued. "Everyone's excited about the new people coming and the opportunities that are going to be provided to them. Everyone here, no one has asked how the kids will feel about this. We understand that we're kids, and we're not the ones paying taxes, but we are the ones that are going to see them every day."

jenny July 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM
I'm so sick of the race card being pulled out at every situation. Get your FACTS straight before you get all Godly on everyone. Its a fact that the violence and stupidity/laziness at that school is at an outrageous level. It just sucks that the, maybe, handful of good students are being put in that school. No one can blame these parents for not being overly liberal when it comes to their child's education. They chose to not live in Normandy for a reason
Msjonas July 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Listen to what you are saying. That "maybe" a handful of good students are being put in that school. I am sure there "are" good students that attend the school and for whatever reason they are in the district who knows, but I do believe everyone deserves a chance. I am not from the St. Louis area. I live in Illinois and work in St. Louis, and I get that there is a lot of crime that may happen more often in one area than the other, but does it occur at all that maybe some of the kids want a fair chance, that maybe they are glad to be able to attend a school with less violence. Some are their only because they have to be. We do not know the circumstances as to why they can't move to a different district. I can understand parents concerns about their child's education. I am not trying to take that away, but the whole district is not moving, and I am sure your FH district will continue to make sure all students are treated the same and that they will do their best to provide a safe environment. Please let's not let the majority ruin it for the minority at Normandy that deserve it:)
Tina July 23, 2013 at 06:54 PM
It would be unfair for me to lack understanding for concerns and fears of all parties affected or tied to the Normandy School District student transfer because there are some legitimate issues that must be addressed in order to maintain and continue to deliver a quality education for our children. The impulsive, emotionally charged, biased thought(s) that are formed in our minds should end right there; in your mind. We should challenge ourselves to self-reflect and to be unbiased as we refine our negatively charged thoughts. We need more clean thinking and solution-oriented discussions and while the mindless overstatements and self-serving chatter will continue we really need to focus on filtering the usefulness from the useless information. The absence of self-restraint is grossly immature and has no place in an educational atmosphere and topics about children. While many of us have used media outlets, social media, and town hall meetings, etc. to vent, lets move on to the next step. The door has been opened for many to feel empowered to say mean and hateful things that are directed at children, and it is such a shame that the energy that has fueled these disputes were ignited by fear, outrage, and with all due respect incompetence. There is always a why behind the what and in contrast we, the Francis Howell Residents did not sign up for this and any unwanted or increased large classroom sizes, bullying, , and hostility when we chose to move into the school district to build and grow our families. I get that, but what I don't get is this loser mentality, and succumbing to the idea that everything that this community has built will be destroyed because our schools will be shared with underprivileged children. Lets talk about winning. The Normandy Students are being far too dehumanized and they do deserve a chance and the outcome of their success will be a gift that keeps on giving... I believe in our successful school system and a quality school system just can't break that easy.
mark July 23, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Msjonas keep your a-s out of our affairs . Are you proud to live in probably the most corrupt state in the country. If so why would the entire state be referred to as chicago politics. You must be stupid if you think I believe you would like to have the east st. louis thug students bused in to your school district . The big question is why should they leave normandy when the teachers make more money they have one of the largest campus around. Like riverview normandy has been ripped off by the black school administrations . This is just another case of black on black crime. This is really bad when you steal from the students that you represent. Another thing when you transfer from one fh school to another fh school all your records go with you. Why do these students not have to provide all their records good or bad. If this is forced on us we deserve to know each students background good or bad(I mean our schools should have this information before one student sets foot in any of our school)s. You talk about being a Christian I am and I give a lot to charities but I also believe in charity starts at home and take care of yours first. Out here most of the parents attend teacher conferences and know what is going on in the schools. The attendance at the meeting at fhc had standing room only and some had to stand outside. Yet I hear the attendance at their meeting was not so heavily attended and I don't know for sure but I don't imagine there is any more attendance at the teacher conferences . You reap what you sow
Guy December 17, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Some of you that are bleeding heart liberal pukes disgust me!

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