Bills to let schools refuse transfers come before Senate panel

Five senators bring up identical proposals to change transfer laws

By Taylor Beck

JEFFERSON CITY — Five senators from the St. Louis area brought up identical proposals last week to change student-transfer laws.

Sens. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County; Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis County; Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County; John Lamping, R-St. Louis County; and Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis County, introduced the bills in front of a packed Senate Education Committee hearing.

Schmitt highlighted a few points of the proposal. For one, it allows for the individual assessment of schools. Within an unaccredited district, each individual school could be evaluated as accredited or unaccredited.

The proposal also would allow the receiving school districts to establish criteria as to how much space they have available in their schools for transfers.

It also would make a longer school day or year a possibility for some at-risk, unaccredited schools.

Schmitt said longer school days and years have improved conditions at other schools in at-risk communities across the county.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, a former transfer student who says she is extremely passionate about the issue, questioned if districts like Normandy, which already faces bankruptcy soon, could afford longer days.

“When you’re at zero, you’re at zero, there’s nothing left in the bank, senator. How many checks are we writing out that’s leaving a Normandy School District or a Riverview Gardens School District?” Nadal asked.

Chappelle-Nadal, along with a few others, also have introduced student-transfer law bills this session.

The bills’ sponsors say it is a long road ahead in formulating a bill that can potentially pass through the Legislature and nab the governor’s signature.

Walsh admits even the five sponsors don’t agree on everything inside the twin bills.

“This bill has a lot of things in it. We don’t all agree with all of it, and this is why it’s a beginning,” Walsh said.