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Rep. Courtney Curtis files bill to cap student transfer tuition

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis (D) (Berkeley) is the sponsor of legislation that would provide an effective solution to the school transfer dilemma that threatens to bankrupt Missouri’s unaccredited school districts.

Curtis filed legislation (on 1/29/14), HB 1619, that would limit tuition charged under the school transfer law for the 2013-2014 school year and following years to $10,000 per pupil. Under his bill, any overage for 2013-2014 academic year would be credited to the sending district’s liabilities with the receiving district for the current fiscal year.

Curtis said the bill is desperately needed by the unaccredited districts that are currently paying a per student rate to districts receiving the transferring students. He said that, in some cases, schools receiving these students are charging the unaccredited school districts upwards of $20,000 per student. Current law requires schools like in Riverview and Normandy to pay the amount for each student that transfers to these accredited schools. Curtis said the current system has stripped funding from these school districts, bringing Normandy to the brink of bankruptcy as early as April unless something is changed.

“These school districts cannot turn it around if we close their doors. It’s not fair to the students and their families. We must do better, and we will,” said Curtis, D-St. Louis. “The sooner we get these school districts back on track financially, the sooner we can reform the system that put these schools behind the eight ball in the first place.”

Curtis has had informal discussions with Rep. Rick Stream (R) (Kirkwood), Chairman of the Budget Committee, about this issue. The money would be applied to the current school year. This would allow Normandy, Riverview and other districts the chance to pay their bills and protect their students while they go through the accreditation process. Without this bill or one like it, Curtis said the two major school districts in St. Louis County would be forced to close their doors, leaving thousands of students searching for schools far away from home.

HB 1619 contains an emergency clause that would put the bill into effect as law immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature. It currently awaits discussion in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

For further information, contact Representative Curtis’ office at 573-751-0855.