The State Supreme Court has ruled that state law requires the St. Louis Public School district to pay the tuitions of city students attending accredited public schools in St. Louis County. The Court said that State law is unambiguous in requiring "unaccredited school districts to pay tuition of its students who choose to attend an accredited school in an adjoining district." The statue furthermore asserts "each pupil shall be free to attend the public school of his or her choice."
This ruling, on its face, puts additional quality school choices immediately within reach for all parents in the City. That is a very good thing.
The reality is more complicated.
For the ruling to affect more than a small number of children, the court would also have order County school districts to open more schools to accommodate City students, and the Missouri General Assembly (or County voters) would have to authorize additional funding to build or expand schools. That's a great idea, but it does not seem particularly likely.
In the more likely world, we must continue to work with the St. Louis Public School District to improve its schools, encourage scholarship programs, and support the creation of quality public charter schools.
BY THE NUMBERS: There are more 6,100 children enrolled in the City-County voluntary transfer program, more than 9,600 City children in public charter schools, and over 9,200 City children in magnet schools. More than 7,000 City children are tuition or scholarship students enrolled in private, parochial, and public suburban schools. The St. Louis Public School District has approximately 26,000 students in its neighborhood schools.