With the failure of Proposition A last week, the Ferguson-Florissant School District could still be in a position to end the school year with a balanced budget. It all depends on a single factor – transfer cases funding.
The district anticipates that it could receive as much as $4.2 million from the more than 400 students who transferred from Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts, which are unaccredited school districts in the area.
Ferguson-Florissant received the second highest number of transfer students in the area.
Previously, Ferguson-Florissant anticipated a more than $3.6 million deficit for funding, and asked for a 75-cent tax levy per $100 assessed valuation for residences, commercial and personal properties. Voters rejected the tax levy with 57 percent of voters saying no.
Wednesday, Ferguson-Florissant Superintendent Art McCoy said that all 397 students placed throughout the district that brings the district’s enrollment back to levels where it was four years ago.
“The math says that it would reduce the deficit if those dollars come in,” he said. “We will use every dollar on education of our children.”
The key words the district is using is “if” the funds come in as they are not counting on those funds.
Ferguson-Florissant Chief Financial Officer Laura Modrusic said that the district currently does monthly invoices to Riverview Gardens and Normandy for monthly tuition payments for each student.
Normandy School District will become a wait and see game as it attempts to pay tuition and transportation costs for students. Normandy will lose up to $15 million in tuition payments according to a St. Louis Beacon article. If the district isn’t able to pay all of its bills, it could be at risk for bankruptcy, which would result in a halt of payments or complications of payments for the district.
Modrusic said at that point it becomes a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education problem to be able to look at what would happen next for Normandy and its students and the funding.
She said at this time, the state has no answers.
Modrusic provided figure breakdowns for the funds for the Board of Education if they were paid, such as $50,000 for instructional materials and $32,000 for staffing, if necessary.
One anticipated cost is the cost of transportation from both districts for students, which could result in $500,000 to bus the students to their respective school.
In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Superintendent McCoy said that some of the tuition money for students could be used to provide bus services. Currently, the district has worked with churches and local organizations to shuttle students between Ferguson-Florissant schools and home.
One thing is for sure, the failure of the proposition doesn’t mean the end of options for the district.
“This loss was a win in regard to (team-building) matters,” he said. “I’ve never seen a sense of such togetherness since I’ve been in the district.”
McCoy said that he, the Ferguson-Florissant Cares Committee and opponents to the proposition would work a lot more closely to get on the same page of the needs of the district. A monetary value would not be placed on the continuing of education in the district, though.
“It’s not about money, it’s about doing what’s best for kids,” McCoy said. “It’s been a journey we needed, and one we’ll continue.”